Every now and then, you may find yourself reacting to a minor challenge or conflict with unexpected bitterness or vehemence. Anger, of course, has its place on the wheel of appropriate responses; however, when anger festers without expulsion, it can arrive at an inopportune moment. Further, unexpressed anger, especially the sort associated with self-recrimination, can lead to physical imbalances in the form of headache, acid reflux, and spiked blood pressure.
Silent Sunday, with its invitation to enjoy serene, spiritual time that can easily escape most days, may seem like a surprising choice to address anger. Yet, anger does does not discriminate against people, place, or time: The Beast is as likely to appear on Silent Sunday as it is on a Weary Wednesday.
Should you discover that anger has come a-calling through your sarcastic tone or biting words, or even in a less evident, passive-aggressive manner, the following multifaceted pranayama can have immediate reversing effect. And if you begin to suspect that you are thinking or behaving in a way anathema to self-respect, practice the technique to clear any obstacles to your capacity for self-care and -compassion.
The first technique will help you immediately release pent-up emotions and stress. Essentially, it is Lion’s Breath with accompanying hand and face gestures. Lion’s Breath is a deep inhale through the nose, followed by an explosive exhale through the mouth. In this case, stick the tongue out as far as possible upon a sounded, “roaring” exhale. You may detect the sharp, tell-tale edges of anger in a raspy, ferocious roar. If your anger is inwardly directed, you may have trouble making any sound at all. As you practice the pranayama, the exhalation will take on a smoother, yet still powerful quality. This is your cue that you have reduced the heat of anger to a point where you retain the positive qualities of anger’s Fire (determination, motivation), and dispel the damaging characteristics.
Along with Lion’s Breath, you enact hand and facial movements. In whatever seated position you have chosen, close your eyes and let your hands rest quietly on your knees or thighs, palms down. Inhale fully, and squeeze your hands into fist while scrunching your entire face into a tight mask.
As you exhale powerfully through your mouth, thrust your arms straight out and quickly spread the fingers wide. Along with this movement, and with your tongue sticking out upon your exhale, open your eyes and roll them upward to focus quickly between the brow, i.e., on your Third Eye.
As you inhale, come back to the initial closed-eye, hands-resting position. Exhale deeply before you begin again: Inhale with fists and “scrunch;” exhale Lion’s roar with hand and face moves. Repeat the sequence for 1-3 minutes, or until you feel a sense of relief from tension in the head or belly.
To close, take a short Svasana (Corpse, or resting pose), so that you integrate the feelings of restored calm and balanced outlook.