Yoga Therapy For Difficult Emotions

Anger, Aggression, Hate, Competitiveness, Comparison, Judgement, Criticism.

All normal emotions to have at times, but in excess they become a problem. As a yoga teacher and therapist, I am often asked how to work with these difficult emotional states. We often see them clumped together. One way to look at these states is as an excess of Pitta or Fire energy in the system. When this energy is in excess, we experience symptoms. Some of these symptoms are the mentioned emotional states, anger and criticism being the most predominant. Other symptoms might be actual heat (we are hot), digestive issues, or inflammation.

The key to working to get this fire under control is sensitivity. When we stop feeling energy in our body we move out of balance. Unfortunately, the more out of balance we are, the less likely we are to be sensitive. We have all experienced this: think back to a time you were angry at one situation, and then took that anger out on another situation – and then another, etc.

This is why we need to take active steps to re-sensitize ourselves. For those of us who tend to go out of balance in this way (i.e. you are an angry person versus a depressed person), a pitta balancing practice is helpful. There are many levels at which we can effect pitta – I have found that building sensitivity in asana and pranayama particularly useful.

In asana, the key is to move enough to actively feel your heat. There are many ways to do this, but for many, sun salutes are a good choice. The game is to warm ourselves up and then move enough, either through repetition or effort, so that we feel warm in our torso but not in the neck and head. Playing this game will automatically make us more sensitive and train us to feel our heat and then control it. Once we find that fire in an appropriate manner we can then slow it down. After these pitta appropriate sun salutes, we gradually wind down with forward bends and relaxing supine poses like lying twists and legs up the wall. In this way we sensitize, control, and then calm the pitta.

Another possibility is to warm the belly with a modified breath of fire. Again controlling the heat level so that the heat stays in the belly and does not reach the head. This pranayama can be taught by any Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapist.

If you are a yoga class teacher it may be helpful to ponder how intense and heating your class is for your students. Best would be to stoke the fire without imbalancing it. Some students might need modifications in effort level to find the emotional balance they are looking for.

As always I welcome comments and questions,
May all our collective fire be strong and balanced today – Om Shanthi.


The Power Of Practice: Yoga & Schizophrenia

yoga brain image The power of a proper practice never ceases to amaze me. I was just looking at a few studies that show how asana and pranayama have very positive outcomes for people suffering with schizophrenia. ​

In past studies meditation has been shown to worsen symptoms for this population. Yoga and pranayama however seem to work pretty well by lessening symptoms and improving quality of life.

It is so potent to train the mind through movement in breath. This serves as a great reminder to us all of why we practice. The effect of balancing the physical and pranic bodies through movement with breath is felt every time we step onto our mats. To self heal in this way, even if you are not suffering with such a difficult mental condition, is a great service to ourselves and everyone around us. If you know anyone suffering from mental issues like anxiety or depression, a Yoga Therapist may be of great service to them. Spread the word.

Taking control over our well being is our birthright and yoga therapy is a gem available to all.

Om Shanti,

The Eight Fold Path

Chakra Image YogaThe Eightfold Path: Why Is It Useful In Yoga Therapy?

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are a manual for how to move towards an enlightened life. Included in this ancient text is an eight part system for how to experience and live life with less suffering.

Yoga’s eight component parts are self control for social harmony,

precepts for personal discipline,

yoga pose,

regulation of prana,

withdrawal of senses from their objects,

contemplation of our true nature,

meditation on the true self,

and being absorbed in Spirit

–Sutra 2.29

What is amazing about this approach is the acknowledgement that there is an order to how one can go about finding peace. Unlike some other systems, there is a direct appreciation for our lived experience as human beings working with bodies, breath, and minds. It is really useful to think about this order when we have dis-ease, especially in the mind. For example, it is very possible that any of us could be having a difficult time finding mental peace if we haven’t found a movement practice that suits us. To my thinking, if someone is suffering from anxiety it would be a shame not to recommend some movement and breathwork before trying to work directly with the mind. This is one of the ideas Patanjali is trying to share with us. If we simply try to “go for it” therapeutically, it may not yield the results we are looking for. This is because there are foundational steps (like moving the body) that may need to be taken before the deeper work of focusing the mind can take place.

By following Patanjali’s advice we naturally move toward a relationship with disease that requires the client’s full participation. Instead of being told what to do – the client now engages in a process where the results of any practice they’re doing are looked at. If symptoms aren’t being reduced, the therapist suggests another approach or practice that might help. Asana leads to pranayama which leads to concentration, and so on. If we need to go to a different step on the

‘ladder” to achieve successful results or less suffering, we do so with no attachment to our original ideas. This open mindedness creates a framework where healing and spiritual evolution are united. Who wouldn’t want that?

May we all move closer to ourselves today and always,


Yoga Therapy helpful for eating disorders


In a randomized controlled clinical trial of yoga in the treatment of eating disorders at Seattle Children’s Medicine Department, yoga therapy demonstrated a significant ability to improve eating disorders when used along with standard care.

Ah finally! A clinical trial providing evidence that Yoga practice can help with eating disorders. In this study participants ad 2 lessons per week with a viniyoga instructor. Viniyoga incorporates movement and breath (among other things) combining asana and pranayama practice. This is the approach we have been taking in our Peaceful Weight Loss through Yoga program with great results.


Addressing underlying anxiety and/or depression issues is a key factor when working with eating disorders. In this study there was a clear lessening of these factors.


Again, if they outlined the practices in the reporting of these studies it would be helpful. The connecting of the breath to body, so that the thoughts will have less power is key here. I’m fairly sure that other non similar yoga styles wouldn’t have the same effect.



This study is useful. We need more to convince the uninitiated that yoga therapy useful with this population.



Join the thousands of people that have changed their relationship with eating using the Peaceful Weight Loss method. Peaceful Weight Loss is a combination of simple yet practical diet, lifestyle, and spiritual guidelines that show the way towards a peaceful mind and a body that makes sense for each individual to make sustainable change.

In this 9 month course you will transform yourself through:

  • Gentle and easy yoga practice which includes simple movement, breath work, and meditation – all that are geared to transform your relationship with the mind. The practices are catered towards individual needs and are designed for all levels. No experience necessary.
  • Steady and guided effort focused on practical and beneficial lifestyle shifts that work for your specific needs and leave you feeling more positive and energized to meet your goals.
  • A step by step process to find your way of eating that will allow you to lose weight and keep it off forever.

What this online course delivers to you:

  • There will be 9 video lectures designed to be watched monthly. You can watch it at your convenience, going at your own pace.
  • Weekly readings and homework.
  • Personal guidance to keep you focused including:Free online accesses to all 12 At Home with Peaceful Weight Loss videos
  • A private community forum where you can ask questions anytime to facilitate interaction between participants and Brandt.
  • A live, monthly videoconference with Brandt where you can get your personal questions answered and hear other thoughts/questions.
  • Weekly Inspirations/Quotes that tie into your course work to keep you motivated and connected.
  • You will not complete this course without getting your personal questions answered.

Transformation is a 9 month course in the Peaceful Weight Loss through Yoga method.

Brandt-036Brandt Passalacqua, creator of Peaceful Weight Loss has helped thousands of people with their struggle with weight and body image. He has now created the opportunity for many to access these teachings. This course will put you on the path to finding peace with the seeming endless struggle with weight food body. Brandt’s teaching style is a practical approach with plenty of real world ideas. No previous yoga experience is necessary.