Hitting the mat

13 Dec

literally.

I think my college roommate is still in shock that I’m a yoga instructor. I don’t ever think I’ll live down the day I threw a bottle of hair spray at her for singing a perky song while getting ready at six in the morning. I used to get angry a lot. Now? Not so much.

In fact, it’s been quite some time since I’ve been angry or overwhelmed or frustrated. I usually experience these emotions a couple of times a year, and yesterday it was time to rage. It’s not the big, momentous disasters that upset me. I take those in stride. The bigger the problem, the more gracefully I seem to react. It’s the small things that get to me. The consistent complaining from children, added with the tracking of rain through the house on muddy feed, compounded with a huge to-do list, aggravated by constant requests and suggestions from everyone around me, multiplied by not having time to clean the house or return phone calls. Nailed in with the realization that I haven’t looked in my kids’ eyes all day long. When these things join forces and couple with lack of time to center myself, I get angry.

For the record, I think anger is a normal part of being human. Being out of balance is a normal part of being human.  I don’t see it as good or bad, productive or non-productive. It’s just an energy that moves through us. We have the chance to feed it or push it away, or simply experience it. The past few days, I’ve been simultaneously feeding it and pushing it away. I’ve yelled at my kids, given myself time outs, eaten too much sugar, and created a lot of crazy stories in my head. I let myself taste anger and have to admit that it was a tasty, junk food meal. While I was in the circle of anger, I knew it. I knew that the things I was doing weren’t helpful in the least. I knew that I knew better. I didn’t make the effort to sit quietly with the anger.

Yesterday morning, Lisa let me vent. I went on and on and on like a high school girl playing victim. Then I apologized and she laughed and we both agreed that I needed some yoga. I didn’t have much time (which is one of my main stressors), but I stepped on to the mat anyway. There was an alter of flowers and candles at the front of the room and I put on my favorite yoga music mix. I used the candles as a funeral pyre and offered my anger as fuel for the fire. Then, I started hitting the mat. 20 minutes of not-so-graceful Surya Namascar gave that anger the life it needed. I felt it appreciate having a space to live its life, and a direction to move in. When I rested in Samastihiti at the end of practice, it was gone. Burned in the funeral pyre.

I love the power of tapas – the refiner’s fire. Works every time. Sometimes intentions are symbolic, and sometimes they are literal. Yesterday was a literal day, and thank god for it.

So what do you think? Is anger good or bad? Does it depend on how it’s used? How have you handled anger successfully? Can you see the signs of anger approaching, or does it sneak up on you?

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