I always have students ask me if it’s normal to get a little choked up during or after a yoga class. I talked about this in some of my classes a couple weeks ago, and I had someone thank me after one of them for bringing it to light, because during a previous class she randomly felt anger and then mentally directed said anger toward the teacher, not realizing it was something within her that had “come up” as a result of whatever poses she had been doing, but now it made sense to her.
Not two days later I had a friend send me an email asking if it was normal to get emotional during a yoga class. It had been about a month since she practiced yoga, and during that time she was stressed out and sad from some things happening in her life. On this day in particular, when coming onto her mat she had made the intention to be completely present and feel totally connected to her body, and at some point during class she started to lose it. Trying to hold it in so as to not interrupt her fellow practitioners and not be known as “that girl that cries in yoga,” she pulled it together as best as she could.
I have another friend who lost someone very close to her last year and for the few months following her friend’s passing, every time she came into “that damn pigeon” on her yoga mat, the tears started flowing either immediately or as soon as she left class.
Perhaps the most memorable time I witnessed an outpouring of emotion as a result of yoga, was during my teacher training. We had just finished our first flow together and we were all resting comfortably in savasana, and I started to hear an intense and ongoing sobbing from a fellow trainee. I wasn’t quite sure if I should get up and go comfort her, or just lay there and pretend not to hear it, but it was kind of an awkward situation at the time because I hadn’t yet realized how deeply yoga can get into your body and dig out things that are going on currently or happened in the past. It turns out she was going through some tough times.
Why exactly does this happen? I’ve googled it, with too many results to put in this blog. But the general consensus is that every bad thing that has happened to you in your life has manifested itself in your body and hides out in little nooks and crannies. Think about heart disease, the #1 cause of death in the USA. What is a huge factor in the development of heart disease? Stress! People who are really anxious and worried tend to get ulcers. People who were sexually abused sometimes tend to have reproductive issues. Many of these emotions lodge themselves in especially your hips, spine and chest. This is why hip openers like pigeon, and backbends (ihateyou) like camel or full wheel, tend to release these emotions, and it’s not always pleasant.
I cried once during savasana. I think it was a combination of the yoga practice I just completed, as well as something beautiful the teacher was saying about forgiveness that struck a chord with me, as I was going through a time when I needed to do just that—forgive someone. It became so clear to me that holding that grudge in my head was blocking me from being completely happy and I truly believe that in that very moment I released that negativity from my body and haven’t felt it again since. So even though these things can rise up during or after class, it’s for a good reason. Even if you don’t feel it or realize it, you’re releasing this negative energy from your body so the good kind can find its way in.
If you ever find yourself in this state as a result of a yoga class, try some poses that are calming and more of a “closing” nature. For example, forward folds, child’s pose, shoulder stand, and my favorite—legs up the wall, which looks exactly what it sounds like.