Stepping on my yoga mat one random Thursday night, I had no clue what I was in for. We were deep in a pose, when out of nowhere my instructor told us to focus on three things that stressed us out this week. “Wait, what?” I said under my breath, trying to work through the sensation of the pose I was in. Yoga is all about centering yourself, focusing on the positive and opening your heart, or at least that’s what I had always thought. I was utterly confused by this quick transition to negativity, but my instructor made a great point. Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves the time and space to feel those raw emotions. I’m here to say you shouldn’t live in that bad space for long. It can lead to more stress, exhaustion, and a bad attitude, and we don’t want that. To combat living in negativity, give yourself a time limit. Whether it be five minutes a day or even as quick as just getting through your yoga pose, set a time limit and allow yourself to feel those feelings that maybe don’t feel so great.
After class that night, I realized how much more thankful and centered I felt, and I knew it wasn’t just because I loved yoga that much. By allowing my body and mind to go to a few dark and stressful places, and by focusing on those feelings of hurt and anger, I was able to come out feeling more grateful, a little more aware, and with a stronger sense of peace. I came out of yoga that night feeling like my life’s negativity is the fuel behind my own positivity. For me, I’m working through negativity by channeling it in my yoga practice. Maybe for you, it’s by journaling or listening to music or even simply meditating on those hurt feelings. Work through the situation in your mind and tell yourself why you’re stressed out or hurt. And like I said above, give yourself a time limit. After the time is up, move on. Whether it’s through a pose in yoga, painting your nails, or simply being mindful of all the good in your life, give yourself a task to move on to. When those feelings of harm and negativity start to creep back in, shut them down. Maybe you have a word, quote, or phrase you channel within yourself, and you repeat it in your mind to shut down the negativity. Whatever it is, don’t allow yourself to sit in it. Feeling pain, and being able to move on from it, so easily translates into yoga. Whether you’re new to your practice or have been on your mat for a few years, how often have you left yoga feeling sore? If there’s one thing I love about yoga it’s that you stretch yourself to new limits, but as most yogis will tell you, it doesn’t come without a little pain. The same can be said for feeling those negative vibes. It comes with pain, but as I learned in my practice that night, it took my awareness and thankfulness to new heights. With that in mind, here are three poses to help work through negativity.
1. Pigeon Pose
As you’re centered with the ground and feeling that deep stretch through your hip, focus on a few things that have gone wrong in your week, or feelings that are debilitating as you walk through your day. Use the stretch to work through those hard, raw emotions. Crappy days are just that: crappy. Feel it. Don’t let yourself move from it until you’ve gone a little bit past your normal stretching point. Push yourself to not move on too quickly. Breathe and let your body feel the sensation in the stretch. Utilize a Sun Salutation that transitions into Tabletop position as you move into your next pose.
2. Back Bend
Using your breath, focus all your energy on two or three good things that have happened to you in the last week, or even just today. Maybe it’s a simple as a great lunch you made or as grand as a huge life event. Whatever it is, relish those feelings of happiness and positivity. Feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with joy. As you do this, realize all the positives you’ve been accomplishing as you stretch and open your heart up into the sky. Utilize a Sun Salutation transitioned into a Plank Pose and then into a lunge as you move into the final pose.
3. Reverse Warrior Pose
Challenge your mind and body to focus on a few things that you intend to change as you leave your mat. You can’t control the negative, and we’ve left that back in Pigeon Pose on your mat. We’ve also overcome the spirit and body with positive thoughts of things that changed our week or day around. Now, challenge yourself to overcome. How will you take this opportunity to change your night or week around and make it better? As you open your arm up, bend backwards and stretch your heart open to the sky, realize you can overcome and challenge yourself in a few small areas to do just that.
Then, relax your shoulders just a little bit more, breathe just a little bit deeper and be proud that you have the chance to overcome. Allow yourself to feel your way through your practice and your day and you’ll walk out the door knowing that you will and can continue to overcome both in life and yoga. I can promise you won’t regret it.