Emotions and the ancient art of Yogatherapy: How to release, repattern and transcend negative emotions
First step. Letting go: Allowing and releasing subpressed and unconscious negative emotions
Many people come with diseases that have their cause not in the physical, but in the emotional layer of their being. For example, if there is pent-up anger in your system against a (past or current) situation, job, person, pattern, place or circumstance in your life (or against yourself), your body might also express that emotion on a physical level and might develop an inflammation (or high blood pressure, acidity, ulcers, skin rashes, sometimes even autoimmune disorders or cancer) to express the feeling inherent in your system and to give you a sign that something inside you asks to be looked at, released and resolved.
Our whole being is a holistic expression of the energies, patterns and belief systems that we carry. Whatever you feel in any moment will be expressed throughout your whole system, whether you are consciously aware of that or not.
That means that an emotion/energy/ state of being is simultaneously expressed through your feelings, your mental state, how good your connection to spirit is and of course, your physical body. In the Yoga sutras Patanjali talks about disease/ a disturbed mind being easily recognizable through a constricted heart space (duḥkha), a negative mindset (daurmanasya), a state of dis-ease in body and limbs (aṅgamejayatva) and also through the breath being disturbed (śvāsapraśvāsāḥ , YS. I.31).
When we look at people we might know that they are sad not just because they are crying, but because of the way how they carry their body, the way their face, skin and eyes look, the tone of their voice, their heavy breath (or continuous sighing), their state of disconnection from their inner light/higher self and the contracted energy we can feel around them.
As Viniyoga® Yoga therapists, our main purpose is often times not to instantly tell a person what we sense inside their system, but to hold the space and give the person an individualized practice that helps them realize the energy that they are holding inside, themselves. Yoga therapy is meant to be self empowering and practices will be designed specifically so that things are allowed to come up to be seen, understood, and released. The journey of healing involves that the person comes back to a holistic state of being and delves deeply into themselves. Most people in our consumerist society are so used to getting answers from outside of themselves, but real healing only occurs through your own inner transformational work. Only if a person realizes (not just mentally understands) a certain pattern themselves will they actually be able to release it.
Your own journey starts with awareness. When did the disease start and what happened at that time in your life?
Often times, by the simple fact that Yoga therapeutic practices make a person take time and space for themselves (you have to practice on your own every day), a process of reconnection between the different layers is started. All good individualized yoga therapy practices work holistically and will bring up what is held inside. Certain mantras, energetic locks and breathing techniques can aid the process of releasing energies that are held inside the system.
One time a student was suffering from high blood pressure. It never came to the student’s mind that the blood pressure wasn’t only physical, but was connected to the death of the father who had passed two years before. After doing the practice for a couple of weeks, she realized in a session that she had never taken the time to actually grieve for her father. In the coming weeks when she was doing her practice she was continuously crying. She was releasing all the subpressed sadness that she had held inside. For two weeks straight she was crying every single day, and this time she was allowing all those sad feelings to finally come up. After those two weeks the crying stopped- and the blood pressure went down.
In another example a male student came with intense anxiety attacks. He had to take a lot of different psychopharmica so that he was able to sleep. Because of their side effects he felt really drowsy during the day. He couldn’t explain where the anxiety originated but had suffered from it for most of his life. After he started practicing at some point the energy of abuse became really apparent. He remembered having been sexually abused as a teenager. After he was allowing himself to acknowledge and feel angry about what had happened to him, he started sleeping better and his anxiety became less.
Of course, not every disease is monocausal and not every sickness will be straight forward or resolved once the underlying emotion or energy is allowed to be felt and released.
But often we as therapists see that the releasing of an emotional energy that is held inside the system can be a tremendous facilitator of the healing process. In a society where many people were told to feel okay even though they feel fragmented and in which many people are still ashamed to show vulnerability, negative emotions and fragility, the acceptance that we are not okay, that we are vulnerable and actually allowing ourselves the space to feel all these subpressed feelings, frustrations or disappointments is the first step that we can take to feel better.
That being said, with emotions it is important to remember that they are meant to be felt- and then moved out (e-motion from Latin ex- out and movere- to move). Emotions should not be held on to for the rest of your life, but often times that is what we do.
For some people some emotions might need some time to be processed and released and that is okay, but if you hold on to anger for example and continuously feel angry or sad and you become addicted to the continuous drama, it actually also indicates disease that needs to be addressed.
A yoga therapist will always offer a safe neutral container in which the student is held without judgement and can open up. Yoga also offers extremely potent tools that help to bring up, clear, and release what is inside as well as bring more clarity to what it is you might be holding.
If you are interested in learning more about this beautiful ancient art of Yogatherapy and like to provide similar assistance for your own students, the KHYF will start a Yoga therapy training program in Germany in september 2018. For more information and to enroll check the full brochure at www.khyf.net/yth2018
By Evelyn Einhäuser, Viniyoga Teacher