We all have a daily grind that can become monotonous. Underwhelming. A bore (or chore). And then of course there are days when things out of our control happen, causing an unbelievable bomb to be dropped into our worlds. Your heart can go from beating to breaking in one breathtaking moment.
Are you feeling out of control? Do your emotions roll from high to low and back again in the same day? How about in the same hour? Your life is not meant to be this way.
Healing yoga can offer a stabilizing force in your life. When we learn to come into a place of stillness even in the hardest, sweatiest yoga practice, that stillness begins to permeate into the rest of our lives. If your feelings are dictating your thoughts and actions, here are five ways yoga can help you get off an emotional rollercoaster that’s causing unrest in your life.
Learn to Listen
We spend a lot of our day in autopilot mode. We go through the routines that we have created for ourselves that are supposed to make up a meaningful life, not necessarily experiencing the most important moments happening all around us. You may get frustrated because your toddler refuses to put pants on and you need to get your other kids to school. Perhaps your meeting presentation bombed and you shrug it off, suppressing your feelings to avoid crying at the office. When you get on your yoga mat, you must listen to the inner conversation of your mind and heart. You’ll hear all the thoughts you’ve been avoiding and the ones that won’t go away. Listening is the first step to healing. By slowing down and taking a breath, you’ll start to hear a different inner dialogue.
Use Your Breath
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.” — Thích Nhất Hạnh
If breath unites your body with your thoughts, then learning to use your breath to your advantage will only create a more connected life. Your breath can tell you a lot about what’s happening in your body, even as your brain is busy with other thoughts. By pausing to notice the breath, you can recognize patterns in which you are becoming stressed and take action. You can learn to reassess your needs in any given moment and approach the situation with a clear mind. Yoga teaches us to listen to the breath and to use it as a tool to help us through the most difficult postures. If you can breathe easily while your body is being tested, you can breathe through a stressful situation outside the yoga studio.
Face Your Fears
So much of yoga is facing the unknown. This unknown comes in the forms of a new studio, a new teacher, or an unfamiliar pose. These factors dig into a deeper place of fear within you. Are you afraid of not having control of your kids’ whereabouts every minute of the day? Are you afraid you won’t get the promotion at work and make enough money? Are you afraid of losing your aging parents? Facing these fears in an intimate and immediate way will show you how strong you are, and what little control you actually have. That loss of control may sound scary as well, but will actually liberate you into a new way of living. With less fear, you’ll have emotional space for so much more joy, peace and wonder.
You Must. Let. Go.
Along with letting go of fear and the illusion of control, you must let yourself fail. You’re going to fall on your face. You’re going to lose your balance. Your legs and arms will shake as they get stronger and gain experience. You’ll probably catch a glimpse of your not-so-perfect form in the mirror and compare yourself to the superwoman next to you. It’s all ok. You’ll learn that the only freedom is in letting all of it go. Letting the effort and work you put into your practice wash over you in a wave of breath during savasana will become a place you crave. This place will teach you that the only moment you have is this one. Then the next one. And that your emotional rollercoaster does not serve you. In letting go of control, you gain a greater strength than you thought possible.
Heal and Move Forward
There are no doubt some really painful things that happen in our lives. You’ll hear opinions from friends and family about all of it. But in the stillness, there is a calm, clear voice. Yours.
Once you’ve listened to your thoughts, faced your fears and breathed new life into your yoga practice, you’ll find a new sense of calm in your life. The emotional rollercoaster of day to day living has no power over you, because you can breathe in any moment and let go of what you can’t control.
Through yoga, you learn that you are your own best teacher, and empowering that inner voice will always lead you in the right direction.
Sara Sherman is a freelance writer, yogi and accidental island girl living on the island of St. Thomas. Learn more and contact Sara via her website at www.SaraMSherman.com, and read more about her island adventures at www.IslandersFromIowa.com.