Yogic emotions are energy. Our system is designed to let these emotions flow through our bodies. When we do this, we have a complete experience of these emotions and then the energy returns to its source and we feel at peace.
Of course, we have another possibility—we can suppress, block, or redirect our emotional energy. When we do this, the energy is not able to flow freely and gets “stuck” somewhere in our body. This creates stress in our system. When we do this regularly, we end up with a constant level of stress and anxiety. The emotions keep getting built up in our system with nowhere to go.
The most common way to suppress these emotions is through food. When intense emotions arise, many of us have the habit of eating to calm them. We actually believe it works because in the short term the intensity is dulled. We are, however, only contributing to the buildup of anxiety in the system. As we repeat this behavior, the anxiety we experience grows.
We need to have two experiences to change this pattern. First, we need to get used to feeling energy course through our bodies. Our physical practice gives us a place to do this. As we get used to this feeling, we begin to see it as normal and we find that we do not need to react when energy moves in our system.
Second, we need to have repeated experiences of strong emotions coming up and then subsiding without long-term damage. I’ve found diaphragmatic breathing, particularly while lying down, a good way to keep the system calm while turbulent emotional and physical states are happening.
As we experience difficult emotions fully, and prove to ourselves we are okay if we let them come, we are less compelled to stop them with food. And as we allow emotions to release themselves, our overall stress and anxiety levels are diminished. From this more peaceful state, we can see our full range of experiences and states clearly. And as our vision widens, we are more connected to that part of ourselves which is happy, clear, balanced, and at peace.