Crying on the Mat
Have you ever found yourself crying or laughing unexpectedly in a yoga class and wondered why!?
Crying is actually fairly common in yoga. The physical body has an uncanny way of holding onto and storing emotions (think of it as "issues in your tissues"). When we move the breath and the body these emotions often start to move and release, which believe it or not is a really good thing! This most commonly expresses itself as laughing (sometimes hysterically) or crying in varying degrees.
When you find yourself doing either in a yoga class, consider taking a child's pose and giving yourself approximately 90 seconds. In that time try to truly feel whatever you are feeling in that moment. If you do so, chances are the emotions will quickly pass - usually in about 90 seconds. (When we try to stop crying or stifle our feelings is when they seem to linger.) Then, when you are ready, find your breath again and rejoin the class.
Releasing stuck/trapped energy (think of emotions as merely energy in motion) is really healthy, so try to embrace what your body is attempting to do and know that it is ok. That you are more than ok. And however you are showing up on any given day in any given yoga class is EXACTLY how you should be . . . as you!
Many believe that crying is most common in hip opening poses (think pigeon and the like) as our hips can serve as "emotional junk drawers", but I’ve found both in my personal practice and in teaching others that crying/laughter can come at any time - maybe 4 Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations) into class, during a tricky balancing sequence, resting in savasana, or anytime in between. Emotions will release when they are ready to release. Sometimes it is the breath (kapalabhati breathing, at times, is a trigger for me as an example), sometimes a long hold in a certain posture that sends you deeply inward, or even something a teacher says that resonates with you. Regardless, don’t judge the process, attempt to find the blessing in the moment, and allow the body to release that which no longer serves you.
As a teacher I work hard to create a safe space for yoga to do “its magic”, as I like to call it, so when a student has an emotional release I am honored that he/she felt comfortable enough to do so. Along these lines, I encourage you during these moments to stay on your mat - not fleeing from the room (running from yourself) but to just be still and sit with the pain, knowing you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Be Still. Be Love. Be You.