I never would have considered myself, presently, to be an angry person. Of course, when I was younger I dealt with feelings of being jaded, rebellious, and I definitely lashed out at a family member here and there. Sure, I went through my process of pain which lasted into my early 20s but I had begun the process of letting it go when I began practicing yoga and healthy living… or so I thought. In fact, I worked very hard on letting this pain go and slowly I became the bright, positive soul I always knew I was deep down. Yoga had changed my life. The anger was gone. The pain was gone.
Well I was wrong. Yoga had changed my life in the sense that it started me on a long and beautiful journey in which, from my 2 years of practice, I was just beginning. The anger, however, was still there. Yes, my journey had helped me release some of the pain I carried with me but a large portion of it still remained buried within. I had allowed myself to believe that a healthy lifestyle and physical yoga, along with general growth and maturity had made my pain vanish. It turns out my mind was the magician responsible for this disappearing act and in reality; every cell of my body hid that pain behind the black curtain.
I had this realization at Paramanand Institute of Yoga Sciences in Indore, India while obtaining my 500 hour Teacher’s Training. I had traveled all the way from California as a positive, inspired and generally happy person on the notion that since yoga had changed my life; I would now need to study as much as I could so I could help others as well. Yet within the first few weeks of starting the course, I noticed a dramatic change in my attitude, personality and mentality. I was becoming angry! I was irritable, agitated and emotional. I was unhappy with myself and others. I experienced terribly degrading self-talk and was constantly comparing out. I found myself crying most days. I was emotionally fed up. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. I thought, “Maybe I’m exhausted from being in a completely different country, alone for my first time”, but it was something deeper; way deeper. I had already been practicing yoga for 2 years so the asanas (poses) were not new to me. What was the difference? What was the cause of this anger?
The difference, I soon learned, was powerful; the most powerful thing I have ever encountered. In this Ashram (a place for devotion to practice), we did more than just practice asanas and sequences. Here, I was gifted the supreme knowledge of Pranayama (controlling the life force energy through breath) chanting, and meditation. I quickly learned that yoga was not just being present and aware of your body while performing asanas. I learned that there are actually two types of yoga: Bahirang (outer) yoga and Antarang (inner) yoga. Practicing Pranayama, chanting and meditation was the gateway to experiencing something greater; something divine. Asanas had been the bridge to this gateway. Through these practices, I was being purified of the old impressions and patterns of anger, doubt, negativity, etc. that I had spent the better part of my life forming; the kind of thing that a couple years of healthy living couldn’t rid me of. Our Guruji Dr.Omanand had said to us, “When we are not able to express our suffering, how can we be purified?” Upon experiencing Pranayama, I realized that I hadn’t been expressing my suffering; I had been swallowing it and let me tell you- it was coming back up.
After practicing a couple of the most powerful cleansing Pranayamas, in my experience, being Kapalbhati and Bhastrika, I was finally beginning to understand what was happening to my body, mind and soul. I was learning about how we store our emotions, our memories and our past impressions in every part of our body and that we have to cleanse ourselves of these toxins to find peace. With every cleansing breath, my past impressions and deeply-seeded, almost forgotten emotions were being awakened within me; shaken up like a carbonated drink so that when I opened up, they all came pouring out. Pranayama was beating me out like a filthy rug; the kind of rug that you can’t even tell just how filthy it is until you start cleaning it. The dirty particles of my past formed this dust cloud around me, contributing to my mood swings, my irritation and my anger. After a month of practicing, this dust cloud finally began to calm and settle. In fact, I realized this during my most recent powerful Pranayama practice. After performing the cleansing breath, I began crying; not just crying with tears- sobbing. My whole body was convulsing as if I was vomiting out any toxin that needed liberating. The last time I let myself cry like that was when I was a child; when Pranayama came naturally, without effort or thought. Afterwards, I felt the most pure peace that I have ever experienced in my life. I was floating and I was free.
After these experiences I began to feel lighter, much lighter. I felt more energized. My anger and resentments seemed to vanish. I am speaking positively of myself on a regular basis and I am beginning to truly enjoy this process from the bottom of my heart. I am in the midst of being liberated from my past impressions, therefore liberating myself from old and unhealthy habits and toxic behavioral patterns. Pranayama has opened me up, has shed me of the unseen filth that layered my soul, and allowed me to have a glimpse into my true self; my higher self. I am thrilled to continue allowing for these glimpses.
Sabrina Simon (Ma Shakti Anand) from Maryland, USA is a newly certified yoga instructor and yoga therapist. Her interests are in yoga for children and yoga therapy for mental illnesses. After suffering from many debilitating illnesses, she found yoga which began liberating her from these diseases. Her goals are to continue studying this ancient knowledge so that she can be a channel for it and contribute to the wellness of our humanity