Can Yoga Balance Emotions?
It is believed that when the body is out of balance then so too is the mind and vice versa.
Throughout our lives it is inevitable that we will at some point experience different emotions or challenges that might upset our emotional balance.
Undertaking a simple yoga practice helps to fine tune both body and mind and could help?
Anyone who practices yoga regularly will agree that yoga postures (asanas) when combined with deep breathing techniques (pranayamas) and basic meditation/ relaxation techniques have a positive impact on both body and mind.
During a yoga session the body is moved slowly and carefully through a series of different postures, moving in such a way promotes a sense of mental and physical stillness.
Learning basic yoga breathing techniques (pranayamas) will also help to still and calm the mind. Often we find that when we become upset, stressed, angry or scared we breathe faster, by slowing the breath down we can begin to control and balance our emotions.
As part of a regular yoga practice basic meditation and relaxation techniques are learnt, these techniques prove to be extremely valuable when we are encountering various emotional challenges.
Here are a few simple techniques that might relieve symptoms of the following non-clinical conditions.
Lay flat on your back with your eyes lightly closed, place your hands beside your hips with the palms facing up. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Focus on the breath entering and leaving the body and picture the stress and tension leaving your body on each exhalation.
When you feel ready divide your inhalation into three parts. Begin by picturing your breath filling the bottom third of your lungs, pause, then draw the breath into the middle section, pause again, and then fill the top third of your lungs, pause again before you fully exhale slowly through your nose. With each exhalation visualise all stress and tension leaving the body.
Continue for ten breaths and then return to breathing slowly in and out through the nose.
This technique can be performed in a seated position, which allows you to use this technique whenever it might be required.
Anxiety / Mild Panic Attacks
A basic yoga breathing technique can help to remove feelings of anxiety.
Breathe slowly in and out through the nose, focus on the exhalation and work to relax as you exhale. When you feel ready begin to lengthen each exhalation. Continue this technique until the feelings of anxiety subside.
Whilst breathing slowly in and out through your nose count in your head the length of each inhalation and exhalation.
When you feel ready begin to control the breath and make the inhalation and the exhalation last for the same duration. Remind yourself that there is no need to rush; the breath should remain slow and controlled. In your own time gradually lengthen both inhalation and exhalation by adding another one or two counts to each at a time. Stop counting when the breath is long, slow and controlled. Continue to breathe in and out through the nose, picturing each exhalation removing all sensations of fear.
Low Self Esteem
Take a little time everyday to work on your posture and alignment whilst doing so try this very simple visualisation.
Sit in a comfortable position with a straight back, either cross legged on the floor (sukhasana) or in a firm chair. Take your time to breathe slowly in and out through your nose with your eyes lightly closed. Engage your lower stomach muscles, broaden the upper back and release your shoulders away from your ears. Maintain this position as you continue to breathe slowly in and out through the nose, feel that you are filling the whole of your lungs with air as you inhale and that you are totally emptying the lungs as you exhale.
Now visualise the whole surface area of your body, and picture your whole body radiating energy. Begin to feel yourself becoming a little larger; in your mind see yourself as bigger than you are. The whole time remain focussed on your posture and alignment. Practice this technique regularly for up to ten minutes at a time.
If you already practice yoga and you are familiar with a sun salutation (surya namaskar), practice the above short visualisation whist passing through your sun salutation.
Non Clinical Depression
Meditation techniques and a regular yoga practice have an extremely positive affect on non clinical depression. Studies have revealed that practicing yoga regularly increases the amount of endorphins released by the brain which will naturally lift your mood.
A yogic breathing technique (pranayama) called brahmari also helps to raise the spirits. To practice brahmari begin in a comfortable seated position with a straight back. Breathe slowly in and out through the nose, begin to slow the breath down, rest the backs of the wrists on the knees palms facing up and roll your index finger down to the base of your thumb. Maintain this position as you inhale, once you have fully inhaled take a natural pause and place your index fingers now to the auricle (the piece of cartilage in front of the ear) and hum as you exhale. Continue this technique for 15 complete breaths.
During times when we feel particularly low sitting in relative stillness can be a challenge in itself. If this is the case practice a yoga flowing sequence (vinyasa), a vinyasa uses the breath to link posture to posture, after 20 minutes of moving in this way you should find that it easier to sit and still your mind.
A basic yoga breathing technique can help manage anger. Take your time to breathe slowly in and out through your nose, use every exhalation to release any feelings of anger from with in the body. Count each inhalation and exhalation, when you reach 10 if the feelings of anger have not subsided repeat the process.
This breathing technique can be used whenever and wherever it is required.