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Yoga Speak: Anger in My Thighs?

Anne reflects on how emotions can be addressed through the physical aspects of yoga.

I had been in great spirits as of late, and I credited this with my almost daily yoga practice. I loved my studio, my class, my fellow yogis, and my teacher. I was seeing the bright side of most things, most days.  It was as if an angel was riding on my shoulder. I was on a yoga high even on Thursdays, my off day.

So imagine my surprise when my instructor told me I was holding anger in my quads.    

“But, I’m not angry,” I said, to which he replied that the anger was in my quads.           

“But, what am I angry about?” I asked, to which he answered that he could not say but that it was in my quads.           

“Well, what am I supposed to do with it?” I followed up, to which he said:  Just do the poses and release it.           

Is that why the poses that “hurt” the most, especially at the very beginning of my practice nine months earlier, were always High Lunge, Low Lunge, Runner’s Lunge and Warrior III? These are all poses that engage the quad muscles. And I just thought my quads were burning because I had not really ever exercised and my thighs – or quads – were easily and quickly fatigued.           

Anger. In my quads. This was news to me. Just do the poses and release the energy.            

Once upon a time, someone told me that anger is a secondary emotion. It covers other emotions like hurt, confusion or sadness. And, if I were being honest with myself, I would have to admit that I do not always recognize when I am angry. So maybe my instructor was onto something and giving me instruction on more than yoga.           

I am a single mom, divorced for 15 years. A lot had happened that lead to the divorce, and more followed during and after the divorce. If I were to be honest with myself, I would have to admit that there likely was anger inside of me. Maybe it was deep down, maybe I did not live in it, maybe it was indeed a secondary emotion covering up hurt, confusion and sadness.           

What yoga has given me is the tool to deal with some of this physically. Through the poses, I can gain strength and release energy at the same time. Interestingly enough, the High Lunge is called Anjaneyasana, but I always hear it as Angele-asana. It makes me think of “angel pose” and maybe that is required in order to release the anger. Maybe that angel on my shoulder was trying to tell me something.

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