Your yoga practice makes you present and aware of all of your feelings, even the ones you try to push deep down inside of you. Emotional issues will surface during your yoga practice, especially in the beginning. Yoga won’t always feel good, but it will help start your inner healing journey. If you’re experiencing negative emotions during and after your yoga practice, there are a few tips on how to value, accept, integrate, and learn from them.
What are Negative Emotions?
Anger, annoyance, fear, anxiety, sadness, guilt, apathy, and despair are all examples of negative emotions that we may feel, depending on the people and events going on around us. Learning to address these negative emotions and developing positive behaviors allows us to better deal or handle them. Not addressing strong negative emotions can lead to symptoms of depression.
How Negative Emotions Arise in Yoga
While doing yoga, we become more aware of our bodies. Tense energy can be stored in areas of your body, hips, abdomen, shoulders, neck, and heart. The bending, twisting, and balancing that we do in yoga may help release some of these tense energies, releasing the negative emotions that come along with them.
Even if you cannot recall a memory or cause for the negative emotions of tense energies, while practicing yoga, you may shake or be brought to tears because the energy being released can be so strong.
In yoga theory, getting stuck in these negative emotions is believed to be caused by one of two reasons. The first being Samskaras or Karmic knots, which are negative emotional tendencies formed in your present life or carried over from a past life. The second reason is believed to be caused by a disturbance in the flow of Prana, or vital life force. Performing yoga helps balance the flow of Prana, changing our emotional patterns.
How to Deal With Negative Emotions in Yoga
Developing positive behaviors can be done in the way we respond and react to our negative emotions. Confronting these negative emotions is the first step to developing these positive behaviors, allowing you to identify the negative emotion.
After you identify the negative emotion, take responsibility for what you are feeling. Observe and notice the negative emotion you are feeling and then reflect on how you came to feel that emotion.
In yoga, we are inclined to feel that we are supposed to feel good while practicing it. It is important not to shame and blame yourself for having these negative emotions come out while doing yoga poses. Through the process of identifying, observing, and reflecting, remember to keep breathing. There are several specific yogic practices and techniques to face, process, and integrate strong negative emotions.
- Acceptance and forgiveness. Acceptance and forgiveness are vital when dealing with negative emotions in a positive way. Accept the feeling for what it is and forgive yourself or whatever it is that has made you feel that way.
- Contemplate and journal. What are some of your negative thoughts associated with? School? Work? Relationships? Creating and maintaining a daily journal may be a powerful way to keep track and better understand your thoughts and feelings Making a commitment to a daily journal entry will give you space and time to reflect and contemplate your feelings, helping you understand their sources and triggers.
- Rasa Sadhana. Emotional fasting, or Rasa Sadhana, is another positive way to deal with negative emotions. You can do this by promising yourself to not get involved with a less desirable emotion. Instead, focus on one or more of your positive emotions. In order for you to perform this yogic technique, you must understand the emotions and how they function so that negative feelings are not repressed. Although the rasa sadhana may not bring you complete enlightenment, it is a powerful yogic training that can help you work through those negative emotions in a positive way.
- Be optimistic and patient. It may be hard to feel happy and light when you’re sobbing on your pillow after class, but know that things will get better. This is a part of your unique healing process. We all had different traumas and experiences in our past. We all heal at our own pace. Be kind, compassionate, and patient with yourself.
- Connect with others. Finally, sometimes, it can be too challenging for a person to self-reflect on their negative emotions. It may be more helpful and essential to seek help in order for a person to work through these negative emotions, feelings, or experiences. It often helps to talk with someone about the deep feelings you’re experiencing. This person could be a therapist, a trusted friend, or a family member. Remember, there is no shame in seeking help from a professional counselor if that is what is needed to deal with your negative emotions, feelings, and experiences.