The Yoga Grump – Revisiting the Emotional Purge
When I was about 16 or 17 I had my first facial. As I entered my senses were dazzled. My nostrils were filled with the smell of herbs, my eyes were soothed with low lights, and my ears perked up to the calming sounds of Enya playing on the radio. When I sat in the chair the woman asked if I had ever had a facial before, I shook my head. “Well just to warn you” she continued, “you might break out for a few days afterwards. We are bring all of the crud to the surface so that it can come out.”
Years later I found myself caught up in a conversation regarding meditation. My friend came to me asking why, after he started meditating, he found himself more angry and upset then before. Without realizing what I was saying, I repeated the story about my facial. “Meditation,” I concluded, “is like that facial. When you first start you are working all of the emotional crud to the surface so that it can be released. Stick with it and in a few days it will make you more at peace.” A seemingly small conversation about a facial stuck with me and became a metaphor for meditation, and yoga practice. Little did I know at the time, this is also an idea that runs through chakra work.
Every person has those break periods where they stop practicing. Some take longer breaks than others, still at some point our lives just ‘get in the way’ and we wake up one morning knowing we really need to get back on the mat. I have had many such moments over the years, and again am at such a point where I am coming back to my practice in a more intensive way.
For my first class back in the ‘yoga world’, I took a deep yin class; one focusing on Anahata chakra, or heart chakra. Yin is restorative yoga where you sit in deep opening poses and learn to let go of all the emotions held up in different parts of your body. Anahata chakra is the most allusive chakra dealing with forgiveness of self. As we stretched deep into the connective tissue of the body holding in all the repressed emotion; we were cued to look into our hearts regarding the events and actions we regretted.
Why then, you may ask, would I be so grumpy after such a wonderful sounding class? For the same reason you will break out after your facial; I had stored up far too much negative emotion. Over the past year I had been asleep, moving through life with no direction or happiness. I not only had to let go of all the ego that I had accumulate over the past year, but also had to forgive myself for allowing that to happen.
When I walked out of class my heart was slowly leaking out all the anger and frustration that had been building, and throughout the next day I was extremely moody. I snapped at coworkers, family, and friends. I started crying when I was alone, and found very few moments of bliss. Then I realized exactly what was happening, and the day got a bit easier. I was still moody, but just understanding why made all the difference.
Detoxing the emotional body happens to all of us at one point in time or another. It is an unavoidable truth to our spiritual paths and growth. However, just because we must face something, this does not mean we have to face it without being equipped for the job. You would never start a novices of yoga with an inversion, nor would want to take on an emotional detox of your heart without understanding how to prep and counter. Below are some helpful hints if you find yourself detoxing some nasty leftover emotions.
- Be aware of where you start.
- Do not try and bite off more than you can chew. Know your limits, and do not try to over reach them too much. Just like if you over stretch a rubber-band it breaks, so too can you break yourself over your journey by undertaking too much growth at once.
- Decide where you are going
- At the beginning of each class we are invited to set an intention for the day. So too should there be such an intention for our yoga in total. It can be anything from a physical intention to loose weight, to an emotional one to let go of anger, to even a spiritual one of finding Moksha. If you know where you are going, you are better able to tailor your practice.
- Pick the things you do carefully.
- Just as you should be aware of where you are starting from, and where you are going, so too should you be aware of how you are getting there. In his book The Heart of Yoga T. K. V. Desikachar says, “Each of us is required to pay careful attention careful attention to the direction we are taking so that we know where we are going and how we are going to get there; this careful observation will enable us to discover something new.”
- Be aware of the changes that occur.
- Desikachar has many definitions of yoga. One of them being change. The more you are aware of your changes, the more you are able to be present in the moment when the change occurs or manifests. One of the ways we seem to be grumpy after releasing negative energy is when we are reacting. As you release negative energy, be aware of how it leaks out into your regular life. As you become more aware, even if the emotions vomit up negative thoughts, you can still control your actions and words until the thoughts pass.
Detoxing is a necessary process to any yoga practice, still we do not have to fall pray to the manifestation of effects caused by the act of detoxification. If we are aware, we can be more prepared; and hopefully decrease the amount of negative effects of us and our lives.
For more check out my earlier blog on this subject. here. Practice with direction in love and peace. Namaste.