Who doesn’t want to live yoga off the mat? The answer to that seems kind of obvious, especially if you observed the turnout at the 2013 Being Yoga conference at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. We all want to be more compassionate, calmer, and definitely less angry. But most of us don’t have an easy time doing that in our every day life, no matter how advanced our asana practice is.
Seasoned yoga teachers like Darren Rhodes and Elena Brower, who visited Omega to give their off-the-mat advice during the weekend’s many on-the-mat asana classes, know that first-hand. As Rhodes framed his own anxiety on the opening night of the conference, when he’s not teaching and traveling, he’s worrying about teaching and traveling.
The same kinds of problems affect how we approach anger and compassion, too: during her workshop Yoga for a Broken Heart, Seane Corne focused on her personal experience with how you can’t just namaste your way out of a bitter relationship or a heated interaction. If you spend all your time trying to be the most politically correct yogi, the anger or grief or other emotion you don’t acknowledge will cumulatively build and take control.
That’s how we end up leaving explosive voicemails or writing completely over-the-top break-up emails while drunk, Corne wryly noted—because we fail to acknowledge our animal nature, our irrational half.
So what’s a compassionate yogi to do? According to Pandit Rajmani Tigunait in Conquering Anger and Violence, the last thing you want to do is to suppress your anger. Anger is a much stronger form of energy than kindness and compassion and can be a more powerful unifying force, he says. Give his article a read to learn how to channel your anger and see it as a way to experience your own inherent fullness.
And then: Share your own story with us. How were you able to express your anger wisely and purposefully? We want Yoga International to become a wider forum for fearless honesty and intelligent discussion.