4 Yoga Postures to Balance Your Emotions
Yoga has the power to unlock, heal and balance your emotions. For those of you who have a regular practice, you can probably attest to lying down in Savasana with tears streaming down your face or smiling so hard your face hurts.
Whether the energy of the Black Water Snake or just a change in the energetic system as a whole, 2013 has already been a year of intense change and momentum for many of us. By default we have been given the space to finally make peace with the inconsistencies, loose ends, relationships that no longer serve and things that we have been putting off in our lives.
With change this compelling, emotions are inevitable and what can be difficult is maintaining balance without letting yourself get swayed or uprooted. If you experience anxiety, depression (even on a mild level), lack of confidence, worthlessness or any of the other yucky feelings that we humans get to feel, these yoga asanas will do wonders to help.
1. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana****) – Maintain the length in your arms, legs, torso and chest as you bend forward placing your hands in front of your feet on the mat. Bend your knees as much as you need to or place your hands on blocks.
Allow any pressure or emotion to release and as you take 10-15 breaths in this pose, really root down with your hands and feet, drawing up healing energy from the ground. Be still.
2. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)** – Shift your weight onto one leg and raise the other leg, foot facing inward and place it upon your calf, thigh or in half lotus. Raise your arms above your head in prayer or with arms separated, palms facing in.
Take 10-20 breaths and breath deeply into your heart space. Feel your roots deep within the earth like a giant oak tree. Feel stable.
3. Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II) – **Stand with your feet about three-and-a half to four-and-a-half feet apart with your front toes pointed straight and your back foot in at a 45 degree angle. Bend your front knee until your leg reaches a 90-degree angle and extend your arms. Lengthen your spine by tucking your tailbone in and down.
Breathe 20-25 breaths here, drawing energy and vitality from the earth. Feel strong, powerful, confident and beautiful. Shine out of your heart space.
4. Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) -** Note: This pose is for advanced practitioners only. If you do not have a regular yoga practice you can lie on your back and put your legs up in the air and breathe here.
Lie on your back and elevate your legs bringing them over your head until your feet touch the floor or a block. Place your hands up your back, lift your spine and elevate your legs. With spine straight and chin away from your chest, breathe here.
Take 25-50 breaths in this pose. Inversions help to shift perception and rejuvenate the body as well as tonify and cleanse the endocrine system. You may also choose to place your feet to the floor after completing your breaths transitioning into Plough Pose (Halasana).
With regular practice of yoga asanas, you will notice yourself feeling more balanced, joyful, confident and less abound by your fears, therein, facilitating transformation and change with emotional stability.
Yoga and Emotional Intelligence
Recently, in one of my journals, I read an article by a psychologist who had stumbled across an obscure research project involving emotional intelligence. I had first been exposed to the concept of emotional intelligence when I was working on my master’s degree back in the nineties. As a yoga teacher, emotional intelligence as a basis for a balanced life seemed intuitive.
The premise of the research is basically that our emotional intelligence is as important, if not more important, than our intellectual IQ. Without a strong emotional foundation, intelligence alone was not enough to create a successful and balanced life.
There are four components to emotional intelligence. The first is self-awareness or knowing what you are feeling and why. The second is self-management or the ability to use your self-awareness to get better at handling your impulses and disruptive emotions. The third component is empathy or the ability to sense how others are feeling; and the fourth component is being skilled at establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.
Without self-awareness, self-management, empathy and relationship skills, even the most intelligent person would find it difficult to live a healthy and stable life. That is because we are all dependent upon each other and emotions and feelings are a major part of human existence.
In yoga emotional turmoil is often referred to as “monkey mind.” This is an expression used to describe the jumping and scattering of our mind due to emotional instability. In life, it is all too easy for us to lose our emotional balance and end up leaping from one emotion to another.
Who doesn’t get pulled into drama and emotions or caught up in games, competition and fighting? How about sadness and fear? We call this being tossed around in the world. In the ideal, we are in the world, but not of the world. That means we are aware of our presence while being in control of our thoughts, words and actions. We have compassion for all of life and we relate to others with a sense of complete understanding. We appear in the world, but are not perturbed or thrown off balance by the events of life. Once this is achieved an individual is said to be liberated or free of the monkey mind.
Now, it is not that a person must go away and live the life of a hermit in order to achieve liberation. It means to live fully in the world, while maintaining a sense of emotional balance. It’s about control and reaction. If you learn to control your mind, you control everything. This is yoga intelligence. How do we achieve this? Practice; nothing in life is achieved without practice.
Sometimes people try to run away and hide and even renounce life to be free of life’s turmoil. But you can never run away. Without emotional intellectual we can remove ourselves physically, but the mind – its thoughts and emotions – go with us forever.
As the saying goes, “you take it with you wherever you go.”
Intellect in yoga is really mental attitude. “As the mind, so the person.” It is not about changing the outside world. It is about changing your attitude towards things. If you gain control over your emotions you will never be tossed about by the outside world. Emotional intelligence reminds us that there is nothing wrong with the world; the problems begin and end within our own minds.
We can try to measure the quality of life with a high IQ, but without awareness, control, empathy and the ability to relate the mathematical equation that measures our intellect, we miss the mark. The prize does not always go to the smartest, but it does more times than not, go to the one who has the ability to keep a focus; and keeping a focus requires the application of the four components of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, empathy and relating.
Therefore, with all things in life, be aware and fully understand their nature. Manage them with empathy and understanding, and then rise above the turmoil and be at peace. With awareness you begin to understand yourself. When you understand yourself you free yourself from the entanglement of worldly emotions. In this you will find a sense of balance and you will achieve the pinnacle of yoga and emotional intelligence: peace.