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Manage Your Emotions

I have always been an emotional person, crying—as often as daily—at the state of the world or at news of terrible events. This has gotten worse with age. Thankfully, there is some balance: I also cry when I'm feeling happy.

How do I become less emotional and detached yet remain compassionate and caring? I find it a contradiction in terms to not be attached to people or things, yet to be compassionate as a person and a yoga teacher.

Read Ana Forrest's response:

Dear Nikki,

You have an emotional capacity that can be a great gift, but you must manage this gift. It is not being compassionate to yourself to allow every emotional wave to throw you around. It is your responsibility as an evolved human and yoga teacher to be grounded while you feel your emotions.

First, start a daily yoga practice if you don't already have one. Decrease your sugar intake radically. Eat at regularly scheduled times each day. These things will help you steady your emotions.

Next, start working on daily breathing exercises. Three times a day, take 10 breaths as a way to steady your prana, or vital energy. Some further pPranayama that would be good for you are alternate-nostril breathing and Sitali.

I recommend the following form of alternate-nostril breathing:

  • Close your eyes and concentrate on the feel of your breath. Use your thumb to open and close one nostril and your ring finger for the other.
  • Close the right nostril.
  • Inhale through left nostril for 10 counts.
  • Close both nostrils, and hold for 10 counts.
  • Exhale through right nostril for 10 counts.
  • Inhale through right nostril for 10 counts.
  • Close both nostrils and hold for count of 10.
  • Exhale through left nostril for 10 counts.

Follow this sequence three to eight times.

Practice Sitali this way:

  • Curl your tongue lengthways in a tube. Purse your lips around your tongue. If your tongue won't curl, purse your mouth to make a small opening.
  • Inhale fully through the small opening of your tongue or mouth.
  • Exhale through your nose with Ujjayi breathing.
  • Do this for a minimum of 10 breaths.

Finally, remember that you must ride your gift and not be ridden by it. Make an internal choice to be steady with your emotions, without shutting down or becoming overwhelmed. Learn to master your gift, and you will become a caring and empathic teacher.

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