Yesterday morning I wrote a blog post about how the Niyamas can provide us with some structure to help us let go of the thoughts, people, things and stories that hold us back and keep us stuck in life.
Yesterday afternoon, my personal life gave me a powerful opportunity to test my ability to let go of rage and frustration, as I found myself dealing with a situation that left me feeling very angry. I even had a brief momentary thought of drinking to run away from the feelings I was experiencing. I didn’t drink, I wrote here about what I did.
This was quite inspired timing for this to happen, as today’s planned post was going to be about physical ways we can release tension and negative emotions.
Yesterday I used the power of physical work, dancing and clearing of space to release my tension and rage. Clearing space in my home also allowed me to clear space in my mind and release the tension that was coursing through my body. Getting rid of unnecessary stuff always feels so freeing, I do love to see the space open up before my eyes, to discard the stuff I used to think important, and to be able to move on feeling lighter.
I think decluttering is a great metaphor for recovery.
As well as clearing of space, there are many other ways we can release tension and stress through the body.
The 3rd of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, Asana is the physical postures and relaxations that we know so well in Yoga.
Throught the asanas, we can create and release tension in the body. The controlled creation and release allows us to let go of tension that we have stored in our body already, and can lead us to experience deep relaxation once the tension has been dispersed.
We need the stress and tension in the posture, jsut as we need some stress and tension in life. Stress is a vital biological nervious system response to things that threaten us. Without stress, we wouldn’t get anything done. We wouldn’t have survived the first generation of humans!
Without tension our bodies wouldn’t be able to move! Many of our muscles operate in pairs, with one in tension and one in relaxation at all times.
We need stress and tension.
But just as all other things that we need, too much is harmful to our wellbeing.
In the tradition of Yoga in which I was trained, we rest the body between each posture. This helps to release that tension that was created, and teaches the mind and body the difference between tension and relaxation. by focusing on the breath, and letting the body rest, we release the tension as soon as it is no longer needed, and allow the body to restore to a state of calm and balance.
The postures themselves give us mental space to let go of our stress as well. Postures such as balances require us to let things go – it is very hard to stay in a balance posture if we are preoccupied by the irritants of life.
Relaxation is a vital part of a Yoga practice, and an essential skill for life. Many of us don’t really know how to relax anymore, not fully. We think that relaxation is to be found in a glass of wine, a cigarette, the television, surfing the web. True relaxation involves bringing mind and body into alignment and giving us genuine peace of mind.
Yoga is known for it’s ability to relax, but even this can have the opposite effect if not done properly. I mused recently if my yoga practice was, for years, actually exacerbating my stress and anxiety.
If we do not end our yoga session with a good, deep relaxation, we are in danger of leaving the class with more tension in our body and mind than we started it with. I attended a very strenuous yoga class a few months ago, in which my body was put under a lot of strain throughout, with no pause or rest, and there was no relaxation at the end. I felt completely scattered and wired as I left the class, not how Yoga is supposed to leave us at all!
I would like to give you the gift of relaxation, you can claim a free download of a 22 body part relaxation, and a few other helpful goodies, here
A favourite practice from my yoga classes, once people get used to the idea, the practice of ‘throwing out’ is a fantastic one for releasing tension from the body and mind.
This practice is great for those moments when we feel immediately stressed, as a way to prepare ourselves for a difficult moment, such as a job interview, or difficult conversation, as a great way to start or end the day, and as a way to keep the body and mind in balance.
This video will take you through this practice and explain it further
If you have followed me at all you will know that I do love to talk about the benefits of good breathing! As an stressed out, asthmatic, alcoholic smoker a few years ago, learning to breathe properly transformed every single one of those aspects of my life.
Through the breath, we can let go of tension, pain, anger, fear, craving, anxiety and more. We can let go of the need to ‘be right’. We can create space between ourselves and the object that is causing negativity in us, and choose a different response.
In the space created in a deep breath, we calm the nervous system and allow the logical brain to make decisions rather than the emotions. While I am all for living for the feelings, and am seldom guided by cold hard logic, in moments of stress, it can be very helpful to put the emotions to one side and choose a response based on logic – there is far less chance of us doing something we may regret if we can do this.
When faced with a situation, person, emotion that is causing you pain of some sort, remember the old wives’ take ‘Take a Deep Breath and count to 10’. As with all ‘old wives tales’, there is much wisdom in it.
Take a deep breath, take another if you must, take as many as you need until you feel calm, then choose your response.
I have discussed the power of the breath in more depth in this post
All this and more
As you can see, there are many ways that Yoga can help us to let go of negativity. I feel that I have barely scratched the surface!
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