Shake It Off: 3 Short Practices to Do When You're Angry
Your boyfriend moved out and took your cookware. You have a report due and your wife said she paid the cable bill, but there’s zero internet. Your son is having a hard enough time in school, and the teacher humiliates him in front of the class. To say you’re totally PO’d is putting it mildly. Your teeth, fists, and buttocks are clenched, and you’re raging to anyone who will listen.
Sometimes our righteous anger can help us set things right. At other times, as the Buddhist proverb aptly reminds us, “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” In the latter case, yoga therapy has your back with a practice called spandana.
The methodology comes from the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, and it is meant to awaken spanda—the pulse that enlivens all things. Spanda is that quiver before a seed sprouts or an egg hatches, and we too can feel shivers of delight or an internal flutter when prana (the life force) comes to our aid. The practice of spandana is intended, through subtle movement, to help release energetic blocks. This includes the inflammatory blockage we know as anger—which, if unaddressed, can smoulder away, leaving us (and often our loved ones) scorched.
Spanda is that quiver before a seed sprouts or an egg hatches, and we too can feel shivers of delight or an internal flutter when prana (the life force) comes to our aid.
While there are a number of different techniques you can use for the practice, here are three that can help nicely to diffuse your rage.
1. Jiggling on the back. Begin in constructive rest position, lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (experiment with the distance of the feet from the hips to find what works best for you). Slide up and down on the skin of your back, head to tailbone, with a small jiggling motion that is initiated by gently pushing intermittently with the feet (the amount of movement will differ from person to person). After about a minute of jiggling, rest and enjoy the aftereffects.
2. Rabbit kicks. While still supine (lying on your back) in constructive rest pose, bring one leg up, with knee slightly bent and foot pointing toward the ceiling, and kick it rapidly (you can heel-kick or let the foot flop). Jiggle the leg this way for about a minute, and then release it back to constructive rest. As you release tension from that angry hip, notice the difference between the two sides. Then repeat with the other leg.
3. Shake a big jar of lemonade. Still resting on your back, extend your arms straight up from your chest, palms parallel, as though you were holding a big jar of lemonade. Then shake as though still holding the jar, creating little shivers in the arms to release all that shoulder tension. Continue this way for one minute. (I like to vocalize with an “ahhhhh” while I do this, and I usually end up laughing!)
Now check in with yourself, and see if you’re a little more able to cope with whatever came your way prior to the practice.
The issue or problem that angered us may still be real and present, but how we show up to deal with it makes a lot of difference. These little practices are powerful in their ability to diffuse the anger.
About the teacher
Beth has over four decades experience in utilizing yoga as a healing modality, plus the highest certification... Read more