Enabling your rage
For some reason, as I've aged, I've become more able to express rage. I'm not sure if this is healthy or not. It certainly leaves me shaken, disturbed and feeling like an idiot.
The problem is that if we do explode in rage, it's usually as a result of some provocation - real or imagined - so how do we know when that's going to happen?
We don't but we can acknowledge that we have anger and release it before it becomes toxic.
In the aftermath of a recent screaming match, I began to wonder if I could channel this anger into my yoga and writing practices before it burst out in screaming and shouting. After all, to quote John Lydon's mantra, 'Anger is an energy'.
Rage and yoga: unleashing your inner beast
When I interviewed meta yoga pioneer Saskia Thode for Om magazine - that's her in the picture - she said:
'If you only express the kind side of you, the light, the openness of your heart, whatever, you’re not really going all the way there. We have both sides – dark and light. How do we usually express anger? Through shouting and fighting. Integrating aggression into a class in a playful way releases a lot of anger. It’s waste removal, which is what yoga is about, and getting our bodies and minds relaxed enough to meditate. People tell me my classes leave them super-tired, exhausted but content, and in a state of emptiness.'
Isn't this so much more helpful than the usual yogic attitude, where we emphasise sweetness, light and positive affirmation to an extent that might actually be unhealthy?
For me, practicing restorative and yin yoga is the best way to release anger. I'm not sure if I believe that anger is stored in the hips, as so many teachers say. But it does certainly help me to imagine this is the case when I'm in a pose like Pigeon for five minutes.
Staying in poses for a comparatively long time with my eyes closed so I can look inwards and using my breath as a kind of searchlight helps me identify my anger, hold it up to the light and let it flow into something more useful.
Written in anger: cool rage
So much great writing is fuelled by anger. But, to be effective, I'd say that rage in writing should be taken cold.
One of the most effective pieces of satire I can think of is Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. In the 18th century, when Ireland was being devastated by famine and British heartlessness, Swift suggested that 'A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled.'
Apart from his disgust with the attitude of the British, Swift was also satirising the growth of modern, supposedly rational, economics.
A Modest Proposal is so powerful because Swift channelled his rage into great writing.
Worth remembering when we live in an age where politicians provoke our outrage again and again to distract us while they rob us blind.
I've found that while it's extremely satisfying to vent in writing - it certainly makes my fingers fly - that's about it.
But do please save the words that pour out of you in a fit of rage. It could become the basis for a much better, more effective, piece of writing.
If you have a moment
I invite you for a free 30-minute consultation about your writing and how you can combine it with yoga.
Because learning to be fearless and express your deepest feelings really does benefit your health and your writing practice.
Why not get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org?
Photo of Saskia by Anders Ahlgren