The science of immuno-neurology acknowledges anger as the cause for many ailments. But even before such scientific findings, yoga recognised anger as a symptom of several ailments like heart problems, blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and liver degeneration. In yoga, anger -- whether it is expressed or suppressed -- can result in any or all of these ailments.
Here are a few physical symptoms of chronic anger: your heart beats faster, blood pressure raises as blood vessels constrict. Pupils widen to allow more light. Lungs work harder. Energy packets like glucose are delivered fast (this is the reason why anger, stress are linked to diabetes also). Digestive system shuts down or gets into go-slow mode. Detoxifying systems shut down. Immune mechanisms shut down as blood gets directed to the brain, heart and skeletal muscles. Even the blood chemistry changes to facilitate easy clotting.
Adrenal or stress hormones once released circulate in the blood, creating a cascade effect. Your adrenals are exhausted, breeding the new-age ailment hypoadrenia, causing chronic fatigue, weak immunity, inability to lose weight and concentrate, making you edgy and an insomniac, among other unsettling things.
In yoga, the practices that encourage the attitude of ishwar pranidhana (surrendering to a higher will) are used to control and relieve us of anger and the toxic impact it has on our body.
Therefore, yogic anger management uses forward bends extensively since they encourage such an attitude. Also, these poses gush blood to the brain and face, literally cooling you down. They also induce physical stillness. This in turn encourages mental stillness that allows us to get a holistic view of the situation gripping us with helplessness and rage.
These poses also force calmer breathing that automatically triggers a cascade of relaxing physical symptoms throughout the body. Shameem Akthar, yoga acharya trained in the tradition of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, demonstrates five asanas used to control anger.
Text: Shameem Akthar
Photographs: Jahnavi Sheriff
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.com
Harmony Foundation recently published Shameem Akthar's book, Yoga for Silvers. To place an order, please write to: email@example.com
Also read: Tone your body with these 5 asanas