Exploring the benefits of yoga for emotion regulation...
Emotion regulation is the ability to respond to and manage our emotions in a healthy and helpful way. It is an important skill for everyone to have, but it can be challenging. We know that painful or traumatic early life experiences can disrupt our ability to regulate our emotions – we might not have been taught or supported to develop skills with healthy emotion regulation. Through no fault of our own, we might learn to detach or avoid emotions, or express them in less helpful ways. However, once we become aware of our struggles with emotion regulation, we can set an intention to learn these skills and tools and find healthier ways of managing feelings.
Body and mind yoga practices can help to improve emotion regulation in a number of ways:
It increases body awareness. Yoga teaches us to pay attention to our bodies in the present moment. We notice how our bodies feel in different poses and how our breath changes as we move. This increased awareness can help us to identify and understand our emotions more easily.
It teaches us to breathe coherently. Coherent and steady breathing is a powerful way to calm the mind and body. When we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, our breath tends to become shallow and rapid. If we are feeling anxious, then we might inadvertently hold the breath. Both of these breathing patterns actually serve to maintain tricky emotions and keep us trapped. Yoga teaches us to breathe in a steady, deeper, and mindful way, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
It helps us to focus on the present moment. Yoga is a meditative practice that teaches us to focus on the present moment. When we are focused on the present moment, we are less likely to get caught up in negative thoughts, ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. This can help us to stay calm and in control of our emotions.
It promotes self-compassion. Yoga is a non-competitive practice that emphasizes self-acceptance and self-compassion. When we are practicing yoga, we are encouraged to be kind and understanding towards ourselves. This can help us to develop a more positive relationship with our emotions.
Here are some specific yoga poses and breathing exercises that can be helpful for emotion regulation:
Child's pose (Balasana): This pose is calming and restorative. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Cat-cow pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana): This pose helps to stretch the back and neck and to improve breathing. It can be helpful for relieving stress and tension.
Legs-up-the-wall pose (Viparita Karani): This pose is calming and relaxing. It can help to improve mood and reduce stress.
Diaphragmatic breathing (Pranayama): This breathing practice helps to calm the mind and body, and interrupt the less helpful breath patterns that show up when we are overwhelmed emotionally. It can be helpful for reducing stress and anxiety.
If you are struggling with emotion regulation, consider trying out yoga with BAM Therapy. Yoga is a safe and effective way to improve emotion regulation. It is a practice that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Kayleigh offers friendly and inclusive psychology-enhanced therapeutic yoga classes, courses, and workshops in Exeter, in addition to individual yoga sessions and private yoga for staff, businesses, and events. Find out more here.