Emotional Health and Yoga

Emotional Health and Yoga

Emotions are a natural and necessary part of our human “make-up” and understanding emotions helps us recognize it’s important role in guiding us through our lives. Many have been taught to hide their emotions, sometimes based on gender, and a few rare individuals have been taught to embrace their emotions. Emotional health, emotional understanding and emotional intelligence is slowly starting to become more “main stream” and more talked about in the last couple years.

For those of us who have experience as therapists or active therapy, an  important realization is that all emotions have their part. To dive into the emotion(s) and peel back the layers, is what helps us towards a deeper understanding of self and how we each, as individuals,  process the world around us. Much of our emotional interpretations have to do with our conditioning, history, upbringing, and even geography. 

Let’s begin with defining emotions as an equation in the simplest form. Emotion equals Information plus energy (Emotion= Information + Energy). Much of meditation and ancient yoga practices are rooted in connecting to the deeper self by observing through self-reflection in daily practices and daily life. Instead of being “stuck in the mind” with thoughts and belief systems, each practice is approached as learning to be the observer of the experience, the observer of the thoughts, of the breath and of the body. Whether the experience is in meditation practice to watch the thoughts come and to allow the thoughts to go or in Hatha practice to observe each pose with sensations and feedback in the body. The lesson is to avoid clinging to any event or experience, including identifying with “it”,  but also to be the “observer” in each of the practices. 

On a simpler level, when emotions are “high”, the body literally will tense up. All of yoga and meditation practices are designed to help release tension and hatha/physical practices help the body stretch and strengthen which in turn gets rid of the tension and built up energy in all areas of the body.

The most common tension area of the body is the chest area. The chest houses the heart where we feel most of our emotion. Yet other areas of the body that are vulnerable to emotional build up are the areas of the throat, stomach and even the hips. The physical movement and stretching of yoga practices will most often incorporate stretches to these areas and help to release the storage of excess energy in order to bring the entire body back to balance energetically. 

On a deeper level, much of yoga practice includes compressions throughout the body and the compression not only helps the blood and energy flow but more specifically compression to organs that are associated with the endocrine system. The endocrine system is the hormone balancing system of the body. The thyroid and parathyroid glands in the throat along with the adrenal glands located atop the kidneys are two major areas that get compression during an effective practice. When these glands are healthy and benefit from “internal massage and compressions” the hormone balance of the body is calibrated and the body experienes better overall energy and equilibrium physically, mentally and emotionally.

Another benefit of yoga and meditation practice is that it gives us a chance to hypothetically step away from the emotional thought process that keeps us feeling stuck or even overwhelmed. When we get a little distance, it becomes easier to be the observer and understand our individual processes. Keep in mind that life is designed for each of us to learn and grow and all of this comes from the inward growth and self-realizations to bring us deeper and closer to the true self. 

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