When Yoga and Anger Collide

The Cathartic Inspiration of Sinead, Fire and Yoga.

 

photo credit: Aubry Aragon

Yoga Modern welcomes new contributor, Pam Moskie. I believe you will find her words as riveting, as out of the ordinary as I did. In her first post, Pam enters the Yoga Modern stage full force (this is a good thing, a yogic thing). I give you, Pam Moskie.

 

Today I broke the rules of yoga in honor of the rebel in me.  Purposely misaligned asana, the defiant sounds of an Irish icon, the flames of my fireplace two feet away and the heat of my own fiery nature collide.  I am yoga-fied.  But this practice is not calm, nor placid.  It is not quiet, nor still.  It is fiercely alive, it is hot, and within it rises the insurgence of a voice that aches for expression.

I twist and contort my body in ways that, in one moment, flicker like the flames of the fire, and the next moment reflect the beat of musical protest emanating from my stereo.  Sinead O’Connor has always fascinated me in her outright willingness to claim her anger.   Anger at her mother, the church and society threads through much of her music and spurs her activism.  I have not had the same ability to claim my own anger, but, as I listen and move I feel the presence of an unsettled being rise up in me and spread itself out through my muscles.  This presence bears the countenance of a revolutionary, a defiant creature who presses herself against the cruelties of humanity.  She is what moves me, in chaotic fashion, from one dishevelled asana to the next.  She moves this way unwilling to be battered by an ego that often demands flawless alignment and seamless fluidity.  She is also what moves in me when I feel anger that I suffer – that anyone suffers – at the hand of our collective ego.

This is not the kind of anger that spills into hostile carnage on the world around me.  Before anger becomes manifested in violence it is a sensation, a force.  In me, it is a life energy that vibrates with the seeming potential of a supernova explosion.  When I feel it as energy, anger is a force strong enough to spur me into the courageous act of looking deeper, understanding more fully and responding to suffering in a conscious way.   It is a messenger, like all other emotions, to let me know some harm has been done.  And at the same time it offers me the energy to endure the aching voyage from ego to soul, time and again, day by day.  With my two year-old, my husband, or watching the 6 o clock news I feel the heat of an inner fury swirl beneath my flesh.  And if I can stay with the sensation long enough it reveals the ache of a tender, wounded heart beneath.

 

photo credit: CarbonNYC

Many times my yoga practice has channeled The Peacekeeper, The Sage, The Alchemist.    Today it channeled The Defiant One.  And on my mat I was able to claim the anger that inspires musicians, artists and protestors around the world and throughout history to confront suffering.  The energy that burst in life giving, mini-tantrums throughout my body fed me and vindicated my tender heart in its plea to be heard and protected.  I wonder, then, if yoga is not only a way to calm anger, but channel it.

Instead of placating this messenger of the heart can yoga serve to get us closer to its raw energy that it may feed our revolution rather than be seen as a barrier to it?  This is my hope, because for the bad rap that anger gets its raw simmer in my belly need not destroy me or the world, but rather may serve to incinerate the ego that keeps us in chains.

I would love to know how these powerful forces might serve even more widely. Tell me, how have you channeled anger away from the destructive, toward a greater good? 

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- who has written 2 posts on Yoga Modern.

Pam Moskie has been cursed and blessed by the insatiable desire to understand our place in the cosmos. At a very young age this desire blossomed into spiritual expedition which has led her through both bliss and lunacy to an inner landscape she now comfortably calls Home. This trek through the muck and wonder of the human condition informs her teaching of yoga. She is a writer and Master’s student in psychotherapy and lives in Camrose, Alberta.

2 Responses

  • Vision_Quest2 says:

    This is SO easy to do when I do power yoga (I am really more suited to soft vinyasa, hatha and hatha flow and retro yoga styles …) Power yoga just amplifies whatever mood I'm in. Or it could take mild, free-floating anxiety and transmute it into full-blown irritation.

    So, I don't know.

    And I don't (can't) know if or how I'd feel at peace if I were really suited to power yoga (such as being a Type-A personality, which I'm not)

    Because the style one gravitates to usually has a lot to do with how they are put together both physically AND temperamentally …

  • Pam says:

    This is such a good point – thank you. It seems every person requires their own style of yoga for the transmutation of stress and emotion. For me, sometimes a fast, more powerful style is just what I need to work out pent up energy. Other times, I need to be soothed and breathed by a slow, restorative practice. My work is always to listen deep enough to hear what I really need. Which, of course, is not always so obvious…