May 3, 2012

Being Human & How Standing on Your Head Can Help.

Moving Past Anger, Worry and Sadness with Yoga

I cried myself to sleep last night.

Well, maybe not to sleep. Before I actually went to sleep I reached for a crystal on my bedside table, brought it to my heart, and turned back towards gratitude and love. I melted the anger away with intention, because going to sleep in a world of hurt is not really a smart thing to do.

Sitting in the roots of a Live Oak near New Orleans. So peaceful.

And also because I know that to be the change I have to cultivate the harmony I deeply yearn to see and feel reflected in every layer of society. Even in a world where wolves are massacred and ancient trees are still cut down. Even in a world where very few are controlling the masses with a fiat currency and a mass media of propaganda and fear. I still have to come up with my own state of peace.

It’s these sorts of things that I sometimes let get me down. At times, like last night, I am so very angry and hurt by the state of the world that I scream silently in such a piercing internal vibration that I’m sure it tears at the fabric of the world.

I hope so. I think the world can do with some mending.

I let out such a soundless-scream that surely the inner realms of those who are making such poor choices (in my opinion) must hear me shout “NO MORE!”

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. In fact, I know I’m not.

Being human brings sadness and joy, anger and peace. And perhaps the highest practice of life is to find the way of harmony even when you’re enraged or distressed. The practice is finding the way back to center. And along the way you learn a lot and grow enormously.

Yoga has taught me so much about this. Meditation especially.

For instance, even within passionate anger I can find compassion for the people who are doing such incredibly stupid and harmful things. It’s hard, but it’s possible.

Something I find interesting is that the word “sin” means to miss the mark. When you think of it that way, it’s a lot less condemning. You just need to work on your aim, or focus and follow through. And, I think all of us have missed the mark on more than one occasion. Which can lead to worry, guilt, accusations, and all kinds of other tricky and feel-bad stuff.

Meditation helps loads with this sort of thing.

But sometimes meditation is elusive because your thoughts won’t let you be. It can be hard to find peace when your internal atmosphere is crowded with confused feelings and nasty self-talk. Hey, it happens.

Finding balance upside-down. Good stuff. (Photo by Natalie Anfield)

This is one of the many reasons asana is awesome. You get on your mat, you move, you breathe. If you think too much, you fall over. If you’re wallowing in self-pity or sunken in depression, backbends can most definitely bring an improvement.

Inversions are also great, because they literally turn the world upside down, which is perfect if you need an attitude adjustment.

Now, not everyone is ready to stand on their heads. If you don’t have the core strength, or you have a neck injury, or you haven’t had skillful instruction, it’s a really bad idea to stand on your head.

But there are so many poses and every yoga posture is an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. Plus, when you’re doing asana you’re moving energy and balancing chakras (even if you don’t know you are), so just the physical practice alone can be a big help in resolving icky feelings.

What I find interesting, and worth consideration, is that everything we do ripples out.

This is true of the mistakes as well as the good. If you send blessings, it ripples out to uplift the world. And if you privately make choices that do harm, then it affects others. So living with integrity is an ongoing practice—a very high practice—because even when you are making choices that no one else really sees, when those choices are of integrity it supports the integrity of others.

If you meditate on love, compassion, forgiveness—anything you focus on ripples out.

And when you’re standing on your head (or otherwise in a pose that requires your full attention) and choose to feel and extend gratitude to the Earth and all her children, it is a tremendously powerful thing.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
The world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
Doesn’t make any sense.”


This is one of my all-time favorite poems. It addresses the fact that being human, and the mistakes we make, are ultimately not what defines us. We learn from them, we grow, and in the end—or in the heart—we come back into the place of the soul, which is eternal and beyond differences. It’s the oneness where all the hurts are healed.

Like the immense power of the ocean carried in each wave, the call of your heart comes to you in each breath.

It’s this place of unconditional love and peace that we each seek.

When you are present you’re not creating imagined things to worry about or reliving issues of the past. You’re here. Now.

This, again, is what yoga teaches us. To show up, let go, and get over the thoughts that aren’t getting us where we want to go so we can once again find the joy in life.

And, if all else fails, get on your mat, stand on your head, put your legs up the wall, or otherwise change the way you see the world and yourself. Your breath will show you the way home.

(This theme was taken from one of my Yoga Radio shows, which you can find on my blog. Thanks for reading!)

Read 3 Comments and Reply

Read 3 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Katrina Ariel  |  Contribution: 1,120