Yoga to Empower Emotions During Difficult Times
I’ve been on a journey of reclaiming wellbeing since I was young. Passionate about finding answers to pain points for loved ones and understand health on all levels, I was drawn to Yoga, Buddhism, naturopathy and herbalism early on. Seeking foods, plants, practices and philosophies as remedies for issues of body, mind and soul.
I observed, for some obstacles led to opportunities, while for others the opposite. Emotions and mental states were always very intriguing for me.
As yoga teachers our practice is vital to our wellbeing on many levels. But what happens when one, or more, of those levels isn’t transformed by our practice? What if, even after decades of study and practice, we feel lost and have no idea what’s going on?
As a yoga therapist, with decades of yoga, mindfulness, meditation practice and continuing education, I hit that point. My emotions were wild, my energy levels unreliable, my mind unclear at best. Outbursts, frustration, fears, doubts, power struggles, relationship issues, feelings of loneliness. Like a blade of grass breaking through concrete, no matter how solid our practice, inevitably emotions begin to break through unseen cracks. If we don’t deal with our unconscious, it’ll deal with us. Breakdown got me facing my shadows.
Our shadow work is vital to our Yoga journey. It’s the healing process of reclaiming all we repressed, rejected, neglected and abandoned long ago. Ultimately emotions showed me the limiting unconscious beliefs holding me back in fundamental ways. And so the journey to a fuller wholeness began.
Beyond Peace to Breakthroughs
Within the dis-ease lies the cure.
Feelings and thoughts can’t be divorced. And how we think and feel influences our life and our practice. Yoga and other modalities help us access our relaxation response, calm and restore the nervous system and mind while integrating bodily systems. Bringing integrity, peace and a sense of bliss. But sometimes it’s not all about peace and bliss. Wholeness also includes aspects preferably denied.
Getting stuck in seeking bliss isn’t a solution in itself. The wholeness guides us in our daily choices, but its not a state most of us can remain in, let alone lift others up from. Yes, we can show or clear the paths for others, or we walk together. And others show us the way, but without shadow work, it becomes ego world. We’ve got to do the heavy lifting for ourselves first, if we want to do any in the world. And right now we’re all being asked to do that.
Switching gears and moving beyond bliss through breakdowns and into breakthrough, allows us to embody consciousness fully.
‘Mastering’ and masking the less glorious aspects of our nature is spiritual bypassing. To unconsciously avoid, deny or resist certain aspects of our selves, lives and the related necessary changes, out of fear, shame, guilt or some other difficult emotion, is ignoring our shadow. Pushed into the unconscious. Yet wherever we go, there it is. Seemingly irrelevant, we override these emotions for years. Or our ego, the ingenious dividing principle, whispers, “We’ve conquered it!”
Now think about this; just as strong as your resistance is to that change, that much energy and possibility lies beyond the breakthrough. Sure it asks us to our explore our anger, fears, shame, and our responsibility. To dig deeper and find that motivational force which we all have within, to change our present situation. Which is exactly what emotions are. They’re calls to action. To step up, raise the bar.
Our present world situation is asking us to take action in integral, sustainable, collective and proactive ways. We need collaboration to find solutions together. What better time than now.
Stepping up to find our strength and empower ourselves, each other and our environment proactively, means a pretty impressive impulse. A push. Emotions are energy in motion. Some very convincing; anger, fear, exhilaration, guilt, have lots of potential behind them. That’s why we struggle, we’re forced to find sustainable solutions.
The Power of Emotions
Apart from ‘positive ones’, emotions aren’t often talked about, freely to expressed or embodied. Yoga, equally powerful, brings about healing and associated ‘positive’ emotions. Popular positive think culture sees happiness as the ultimate goal. Spilling into our Yoga process, we miss the deep transformative potential of breakdowns beyond breakthroughs. Being emotionally illiterate can inadvertently causes feelings of being inherently flawed and broken. Outcast.
Can we co-create a world of harmony, honesty and integrity, when certain aspects are left in the dark? Off course not.
Beyond feel good are untold overlooked opportunities of growth. Only when we move through our pain, fears, and other ‘negative’ emotions, can the phoenix rise. And fully step into who we came here to truly be. Turning wounds into wisdom, instead of vice versa.
And emotions are vital. Guideposts to finding out what any situation calls for from us as individuals part of a social group. Being awake and on a spiritual path means we see everything we can, with clarity. And from that clarity take steps to move ourselves, and our collective family, forward. To do that we need to honestly face our shadows first. We can only handle the shadows of the world, a reflection of our collective shadows, once we manage to hold our own.
Reframing Emotions as Life Energy in Motion
Emotions, powerful messengers between soul, body and mind, are transient. They have no substance. If we can just contain them long enough to hear their call to action, we can move mountains. They’re that powerful! Why waste their potential for change?
There’s inherent intelligence behind each emotion. Energy is Shakti’s deepest desire is to live, thrive, give, fulfil and become. Her moving through us as emotion. It’s a conversation. A message between our inner guidance conversing with the inner guidance of another, both filtered through ego. And the way we experience and express emotions, and their underlying needs, depends on our many filters of past experiences. Memories and perceptions, influenced by family, culture and anything with which we identify.
We have thousands of emotions. A vast universe. Imagine allowing yourself the freedom to experience a limitless space of emotions. Instead of pinning it down to a limited few, hear the actual conversation between your soul and the present situation. Use this precious time to see yourself living in the immense possibilities of all visceral sensations. A movement from our beautifully wise, nurturing bodies, nervous system, mind, and limitless self.
This time is an opportunity for exactly that.
Emotional Literacy, Reframe & Transform Your Emotions into Actions
Our mind and body are incredibly malleable. We can rewire our feeling of anxiety into an invitation into newness. Just 5 minutes daily of reframing emotions using feeling your sensations, feelings and holding them with mindful self compassion in meditation, can be powerful when practiced consistently over months. Then we can take these emotions onto the mat, move with them, then take them into the world, as bold statements.
With reframing and consistent practice, we begin to experience nervousness in a universe of emotions, instead as a fluttering exhilaration for a fresh, young anticipation to explore. Adventurousness. Nervousness re-examined gives us extra energy and alertness to raise our ability, intelligence and consciousness in a more engaged, creative and curious ways.
Feeling anger doesn’t ‘make us angry’. Anger is a powerful, dynamic and concentrated energy. It can be explosive. Explore it’s quality and ability before it’s on the scene in that state. Through consistent mindfulness practice we learn to feel anger in our spacious awareness moving through our body-mind. We befriend our emotions. Slowly learning to channel it into action steps for radical change instead. A new project, plan or activity, or conversation, creating change in relation to what triggered our anger in the first place.
And so we explore the universe of emotions, learn their vast language and movement. Emotional literacy. It’s yours and unique. You’re a master of your emotional vocab, no one else. No more shadows, no more projecting your beauty, power and fears onto others. It’s all You.
By giving back the full scope of emotional experience through a more nuanced language, we reclaim the potential energy within emotions. Allowing ourselves unlimited expression to experience our feelings, allows energy to move through us, rather than to us. We’re called to action and the universe is waiting for our soul response.
Begin to have a deeper conversation with your feelings. Step into your power, feel and see the subconscious speak through subtle pathways as Shakti’s wisdom and Prana moving through you. Let your universe of emotions expand and your shadows dissipate. Let’s have some truly deep, transfromative and real conversations. Leave a comment below and reclaim your voice, wellbeing through self expression.