How Yoga Can Help Children Cope with Anger

How Yoga Can Help Children Cope with Anger

Here at Yogamazia, we talk a lot about the benefits of yoga for kids’ mental health. From helping them manage anxiety to improving their concentration at school, there are plenty of reasons that yoga is great for our children as they grow their understanding of their emotions.

Like adults, kids can struggle with strong emotions and they sometimes are expected to shoulder both the frustrations of everyday life and the deeper anger that comes at seeing the injustice in the world.

When rights are removed and we see those in power refuse to take action to create a fairer, more equitable world, the rage we feel can seem overpowering.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry from time to time. Used the right way, rage can be a powerful force for change. But it can also turn bitter, especially if it isn’t given a healthy outlet. We don’t want to run away from our anger, but we also don’t want to wallow in it or allow it to blind us to the joy in the world.

One of the best tools we have at our disposal to prevent our anger from becoming a destructive force is yoga. Yoga teaches us that emotions are neither good nor bad. They are temporary, and they do not define us. We can acknowledge our feelings, sit with them, and then let them go. 

While physical movement can help us to release emotional tension from our bodies, we need to look beyond asana alone if we want to use yoga effectively to help us cope with anger and other strong emotions.

Cultivate Your Inner Witness

Many of the eight limbs of yoga focus on learning to reach a state of meditative concentration. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (focus), and dhyana (meditative absorption) are all stages on the journey towards this state of mind.

One of the principles that underlies this practice is the idea of becoming your own inner witness. In other words, you strive to find the separation between you and your thoughts and emotions.

We tend to believe that we are our thoughts and feelings. But these are transitory things. They don’t make us who we are. There’s a part of us that is separate from these things, that can observe our thoughts and feelings without needing to be swept away by them.

Instead, we practice being a witness. We acknowledge the emotions as they come up without judgment. And we allow those emotions to move through us as detached observers, not clinging to them nor denying them.

As we practice this skill, it becomes easier to avoid knee-jerk reactions to our emotions. We can see them for the transitory things that they are.

Although it’s a simple idea, reaching this point takes time and practice, like any new skill. But we can cultivate our inner witnesses by making meditation a regular habit.

Connect to the Breath

Meditation is a vital part of yoga and essential for learning to sit with strong emotions without being carried away by them. But when we’re in the middle of the storm, sitting down to meditate is often the last thing on our minds.

At times like these, turning to another of the eight limbs can help us to release some of the intensity of our feelings. Pranayama (breathing control) can be a powerful tool for restoring our sense of balance.

There are many different breathing exercises you can use to release anger and cope with frustration. Here are some of the ones we find most useful:

Breathing Exercises to Calm Anger

Ideally, find a quiet spot to practice these breathing techniques. Sit comfortably, with your back straight, and begin by taking a few deep inhales and exhales through your nose.

However, if you can’t get away, you can also use these breathing techniques wherever you are to help you step back from anger and frustration.

1. Cooling Breath

This pranayama technique aims to cool and calm the body, helping us step away from the immediate heat of our anger.

To do it, roll up the sides of your tongue to form a tube and sip the air through it as you inhale. Then, exhale through your nose and repeat.

If you can’t roll your tongue (many of us can’t, it’s a genetic trait), purse your lips instead and inhale the air through your lips and over your tongue.

2. Hissing Breath

Like cooling breath, hissing breath is said to be a cooling breathing technique that can help us find our balance again when we’re feeling angry or overwhelmed.

To do it, suck your tongue up against the roof of your mouth. Hold your teeth together and open your lips. 

Inhale air through your teeth, making a hissing sound. Exhale through your nose and then repeat.

3. 4-7-8 Breathing

This controlled breathing technique is a more modern invention but draws its inspiration from traditional pranayama methods. It is designed to calm our minds and bodies when we feel stressed or frustrated.

To do it, inhale for a count of four through your nose. Hold your breath for a count of seven, then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight, making a ‘wsshhh’ sound as you breathe out. 

Continue for four to eight breaths.

4. Lion’s Breath

When anger, stress, or frustration build up and make you feel like you want to scream at the world, the forceful exhalation of lion’s breath can help you release some of that tension.

Take a deep breath in through your nose. Then stick out your tongue as you exhale forcefully through your mouth, making a “ha” sound to mimic a lion’s roar. 

As you do, raise your hands up by your face with your fingers extended to mimic a lion’s claws.

Find Joy and Gratitude

When you feel angry and frustrated, gratitude is probably the last thing on your mind. But there are plenty of studies that show how developing a regular habit of feeling grateful benefits our mental health, lifting our mood and helping us feel happier with our lives.

We’re not suggesting the toxic form of positivity that insists we should feel happy and positive all the time. Sometimes, our lives are going to involve emotions like anger and sadness. We shouldn’t try to deny or push aside those emotions.

However, it is easy to get into a place where we can only see the negative parts of our lives. Practicing gratitude can help to shift this mindset and remind us of the joy in life.

Many people find keeping a gratitude journal useful. This is just a place where you write down what you feel grateful for each day. Make it part of your evening or morning routine. At first, you might want to set yourself a goal to help you get started with this new habit. Perhaps aim to write three things you are grateful for and three things that made you smile today.

When our anger is sparked by the darkness and injustice in the world, another thing we can do is design our lives to focus on joy. Look for what brings you deep, long-lasting happiness. Not the short-term thrill of buying something new, but the soul-feeding joy that comes from time with loved ones, hobbies that we love, spending time in nature, or moving our bodies.

Join Our Fox Tribe

If you and your family would like to learn more about yoga and how it can help you cope with everything life throws at you, sign up to our newsletter for monthly updates on what’s happening at Yogamazia. 

We offer regular yoga classes for pregnancy, postpartum, and children at our sanctuary located in the Mallard Creek Village Shops & Offices in Richboro, Pennsylvania. 


Cunha, L. F., Pellanda, L. C., & Reppold, C. T. (2019). Positive Psychology and Gratitude Interventions: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Frontiers in psychology10, 584.

how yoga helps with anger

May 3, 2024

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