No matter what time of year it is, too much hustle and bustle is not good for the soul. Time pressures, obstacles in our way, others’ expectations, and our own expectations of ourselves test our patience.
These stressors increase physical tension and fuel the flames of our tempers. We all want to be the happy and generous version of ourselves, but how can we be our best selves when the primal animal comes out?
Being calm is key, so yoga has a way to help of course! Here’s a step by step guide to try the next time you start feeling like a wild lion instead of yourself.
Continual awareness = prevention
Stopping this little lion cub before it gets a firm hold is the easiest way. The key is to recognize the signs when the cub within is still small and easier to manage.
Tuning in to your body is a simple yet effective way to monitor your feelings, as your body gives you many clues. You can see how you’re doing internally, just as a parent checks in with a young baby from time to time to make sure everything is OK.
Scan your body from head to toes to gauge which body parts are relaxed, tense, or unknown! Then mentally command the tense parts of the body to relax. This might be sufficient to tame the lion cub – but if not, you’ll want to proceed to the next step.
Breathing can do wonders
You breathe all the time, but different types of breathing can invoke different states of mind. Deep breathing is a powerful tool used in yoga to shift the balance of tension and relaxation.
Take a deep and slow breath, feel your lungs stretch up, down, side, front and back. Exhale in a slow and controlled manner. Do this with your eyes closed to really focus on the physical experience. Do this a few times; 5 times is good, 10 is even better.
Feeling better already? I knew you would.
If you were able to stay conscious of the little lion cub within you, then that’s all you need. If you need a bit more calming, keep reading.
Yes, you CAN control your mind. A little time, practice, and persistence are all that’s needed. Mentally repeating a simple phrase focuses the mind and eliminates negativity. This is called Japa in Sankrit.
It can be a sentence you create, a famous saying, or something in another language. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you do it.
Some examples of mantras are:
- “I am peace, I am calm.”
- “Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.”
- “Om Namah Sivaya”
These three techniques work quickly and effectively. The earlier you can catch yourself becoming tense, the easier it is to control your stress.
But if you do get angry, as we all do from time to time, you can still use these techniques. It just takes a little bit longer and a little more persistence, but it’s still as effective.
So check in with yourself throughout the day, regardless of how you feel, so you can tame that lion cub inside you. By doing so, you allow your true best self to shine through.