Oh….no…. It looks like I’m now one of those people who writes blogs…. I am naturally a private person and introvert. I’m not a natural writer, I can’t spell and am quite dyslexic. There is a lot of over sharing particularly on social media and there is nothing more tedious than a white, middle class yoga teacher.
However I am writing this because this discussion has been brought up at the end of yoga class a few times and it needs a bit more than I can give at the end of a class.
Strong emotions, such as anger, frustration, sadness, grief, tears that arise in our physical yoga asana practice, in meditation and mantra, is very common. For some it may happen in every class, for others it might rarely happen and can creep up on you unexpectedly. Subconsciously the body holds emotions like armour, subtle clenching as we try to hold everything together, to protect us from harsh words and difficult situations. These emotions can be things from our past that we thought we had dealt with and had already forgotten or perhaps we don’t know why we have these feelings. Each one of us will experience it differently and it will change throughout our yoga practice because of life and what life throws us, good and bad. Yoga is an ever-evolving exploration of the self.
As these stored away emotions arise we often want to avoid them, push them away and fear them. However, over time we are learning to host these feelings and strong sensations. We learn to see how most of our emotional distress is based on our conditioning, particularly the decisions and beliefs that arose out of that conditioning.
It’s ok to feel, and it’s perfect to cry if that is what is bubbling up. Allowing ourselves to experience our emotions fully, we can break through the layers of self-protective armour. Try not to judge ourselves at these times, it’s easy to solidify the negative beliefs that we have. This is when we need to approach ourselves with kindness, undercutting the relentless self-judgement of deeply held beliefs.
Crying helps to release stress hormones and after crying, the heart rate is usually lowered and breathing slowed, which can contribute to a sense of calm. Next time this happens, if you’re gently weeping, please don’t feel self-conscious because you neighbour will be too busy picking the dead skin from their toes to notice.
When I see a student struggling I empathise because these are things that I have experienced and continue to experience in my yoga practice. For me it stems from growing up with a dysfunctional family (as so many of us do) and my unresolved issues with the death of my father 15 years ago. I know that it’s not healthy, but I don’t want to talk about it.
We are full of contradictions, delicately human, perfect exactly as we are.