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How to cultivate more Self Regulation

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The words “self regulation” are used quite a lot in yoga and health related settings, but what do they actually mean?

It refers to the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses resulting in a more conscious way of thinking before acting. Self regulation allows you to respond in a way that is consistent with your values.

Being able to self regulate allows you to BE WITH all that is. To be with all the emotions that come up with life’s experiences. With developing a set of tools, and with practice, you can start to trust yourself to be able to process and move forward from any challenge or resistance. Our ability to self regulate stems from childhood. An ideal situation being a child feeling safe and secure and supported in a way so that they cultivate ways to tolerate uncomfortable feelings, and grow into an adult able to control impulses and respond to situations verses react. This is often not the case for many reasons.

Self regulation involves taking a pause between feeling and an action. Taking time to think things through, sitting with the feelings, and being patient in finding a solution. Poor self regulation can result in anxiety, stress, frustration or even anger.

Developing more resilience will allow an easier bounce-back from perceived challenge and help to stay calm under pressure. Research has proven that self regulation skills are tied to a range of positive health outcomes, to mention a few – better stress and conflict management, increased happiness, and better overall well being.

Some ways that you can put self regulation into practice is to build a level of self awareness. Here are some ways to do this:

Choose a quiet place where you will not be interrupted, find a seat and close your eyes. Take a few deep rounds of breath and a moment to scan your body from the crown of your head to your toes and all the spaces in-between. Notice all the sensations in your body and possible pockets of tension you can take your breath to. Now take the attention to your internal landscape and really try to attune to your feelings and emotions. When you see thoughts coming in to distract you, simply go back to the breath. Be with these emotions, observing with a sense of non attachment. This seated practice will build more conscious understanding of your mind and body as well as to help create more unity between the two.