Sobbing in Savasana?

Via on Aug 23, 2010

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

While I was immersed in yoga teacher training, a discussion came up one day about how to deal with students who cry during your yoga class. Do you go over and comfort them? Do you simply pass them a tissue? Do you discreetly let them have their space?

The concept of crying in yoga class never even occurred to me when I first began my practice. The only conceivable reason that one would ever shed a tear during yoga would be because the postures were too physically challenging…right? Yet, as I began to attend classes more regularly, I also began to notice people’s emotions coming through in their practice. I would hear sniffling, I would see people wiping their eyes, I would feel the energy in the room shifting. I too have found myself blinking back tears as I move through a sun salutation, or lay in Savasana.

Why does yoga make people cry? What is it that triggers the tears? I think the answer would be different for each person. Perhaps the physical postures are too challenging. Perhaps being able to stop and breathe deeply for the first time all day is such a fantastic relief. Perhaps there has been a death in the family, a personal crisis, a bad breakup.

Sometimes I cry because the teacher’s words stir something up in me. Sometimes I cry just because I need a release. Sometimes I cry because at that moment in time, breathing in unison with the others in the room, I am filled with sheer exhilaration at the joy of being alive. In fact, it is these moments that are the most memorable and the dearest to my heart.

For me, what makes the practice of yoga so magnificent is that it unites us with our selves. Our practice makes us whole again – connecting that within us which is dark with that which is light. Our tears, our laughter, our hurt, our fears, our disappointments, our jealousy, our anger, our love…it’s all ours, it’s all part of what makes us who we are. In the safety of the studio, in the stillness of the practice room, in the company of our beautiful human sisters and brothers, we can simply feel what we are feeling – whether it is deep sadness or extreme joy. Then, as we move our practice beyond the edges of the mat, we give ourselves permission to extend that courtesy to our lives beyond the studio.

So the next time you find yourself quite literally moved to tears, simply let it happen, and let it go. It is our birthright to feel, and tears are all a part of the human terrain. Honor your experience, whatever it may be. It is in this way that the true yoga is manifested: the unbinding of the bonds of sorrow.


About Julia Lee

Julia is a yoga teacher, lover of all things, and dedicated student of life. She strives to be open to whatever the universe throws her way and practice her yoga off the mat at all times. Julia believes that the best lessons can often be found in the most unusual places. She writes about her experiences at julialeeyoga.com and on Twitter @julialeeyoga.

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24 Responses to “Sobbing in Savasana?”

  1. Scott Robinson YeshuDas says:

    Nice–thanks for this, Julia. A massage therapist friend of mine says that people will sometimes cry while she works on them.

    Have you ever heard that Iyengar recommended against savasana for people who struggle with depression?

    • Julia Lee julialeeyoga says:

      Hi, YeshuDas!

      Thank you for reading! I actually haven't heard that about Iyengar, but I find that fact quite fascinating. Do you think it was because he thought that savasana could become too overwhelming emotionally?

      • Scott Robinson YeshuDas says:

        I really couldn't say–and unfortunately, I forget where I read it. It does make a kind of intuitive sense, but I don't know any more about it than that.

  2. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Via Facebook:
    Royce Blackwood for me, it was my first-ever class of deep hip openers coupled w/ krishna das' music. sobbing uncontrollably.
    i had experienced a miscarriage- a great loss & socially isolating event- a few months prior.
    Royce Blackwood i also experience small memories surfacing during yoga. for example, a smell from a moment in childhood. this only lasts a few seconds. does anyone else experience this?

    Shelley Dague I've experienced this during yoga and other exercise. Julia, I agree with you, "simply let it happen." I often refer back to this article. Have found it so fascinating: http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/october-2

    Melissa Abbott The seeds of unstruck karma in the sushumna nadi are coming to the surface… It is a blessing for them to burn out like this. It is a type of kriya or yogic movement… Due to grace

    Trista Norton A few months after leaving an abusive relationship, I began to cry during some hip openers. After class, my instructor explained what had happened and made me feel so safe. That class greatly contributed to my healing…

    Christine Baker I've felt emotional during certain moves. Yoga works with our energy system and these types of reactions are common during energy work. The hips are a common area to store emotions.

    Peter Aitch it's happened to me several times, always when working on the hips/groin. i think it's because i was doing movements that directly contradicted habitual, unconscious movements corresponding to shutting down and suppressing feelings. and in a safe environment.

    Vicki Gray It happened to me during my very first class. Well, I had a clue it would because whenever the swelling in my legs was pressed, which kneeling does, the tears flow. My teacher was awesome! She has since lead me through gentle yoga for about a month now, and the swelling is no longer giving me these issues! Yoga did for me what none of the many doctors I had seen over the years were able to do. =)

    elephantjournal.com ‎@Royce: yes, it's common enough as you can see from the other comments. There are many reason… not least because when we practice yoga we are allowing ourselves to enter a non-ordinary state of awareness.
    As a yoga teacher I'm interested to see that all of you say that it happens during hip opening asanas. Thank you so much for your comments! … posted by Ben Ralston

  3. K Sequoia says:

    This has happened for me quite a few times, as someone who naturally stumbled into yoga to lead my self out of addiction many years back. Last time around, a very simple posture was felt so deeply, throughout my bones and into my subtle body – and I literally felt a shift in the energy of my being yawn wide open in my heart chakra. It was like a channel, a river of sweetness was released, and I felt all that you say: the pain, then joy, the beauty and sorrow. It was all I could do to not just break down and sob, so I just sank deeply into the pose and breathed with immense gratitude.

  4. elephant journal elephantjournal says:

    More from http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal

    #
    Tracy Hosey Ross For me, it's an emotional letting go. Very healing…
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike · ·
    #
    Suzy Liz These same kind of emotional experiences are also common in evangelical worship services.
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike · ·
    #
    Vicki Gray yes, but evangelical worship services are scarier

    j/k
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading… · ·
    #
    Ann Louise
    In my times as a Hatha Yoga instructor we called the "corpse posture" this moment of almost leting go of your physical body but still awere is tricky for there is a "astral" space that seams to hit us right into the "Solar Plexus" and emoti…ons just come flying at you…however I also experience people falling asleep just taking a full trip:)
    Crying? perhaps also could be related as how is "prana" is manage?See More
    31 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · ·
    #
    Betsy Hamill I haven't cried yet, but after intensive hip openings I have had the urge to burst out laughing. Really hard to suppress that emotion. It was like a combination of being elated and freaked out by my completely involuntary emotion.

  5. Robert Allen says:

    Great article. Tears are good. I really liked the line the "unbinding of the bonds of sorrow."

    I've cried in shivasana before, but good tears.

    Thanks for writing this.

  6. Robert Allen says:

    For another take on Shivasana:
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/06/shivasana-

    peace

    Robert Allen

  7. Kimberley says:

    I believe muscles carry and can hold memory of past trauma, past joy and as we stretch we can release a flood of emotion.
    I have cried – but once I busted out laughing. Still don't know why.

  8. Maureen Miller Maureen Miller says:

    Thank you so much for sharing – I love Savasana – I practice sometimes just to get to Savasana…. my friends kid me about it all the time. Shaaaaaa-vasana…. it's so beautiful!

  9. indrasingh says:

    Thank you julia for this and thank you for posting my article within your piece:)
    I even experience this while i'm teaching, and i put it down to 'coming home,' i feel when i practice or teach that it is the closest thing for me to getting back to who and what i really am, reconnecting i guess x

    • elephant journal elephantjournal says:

      Great to see a columnist commenting. Thanks for all your work on this forum, Indra, loving your articles.

  10. Masa says:

    I started crying in supta baddha konasana after some medium hip work. Not sure where it came from.

  11. elephant journal elephantjournal says:

    #
    Isabella Konold Yup! Sure have!

    #
    Christy Escobedo Brady yes, yes, yes…….i have cried in yoga class so many times over so many years…..natural releases as well as intentional releases.

    #
    Denise Kubiak Yes I have!

    #
    Bobby Tee you you by chance know where is a good yoga place fort lauderdale?…would you know by chance.. not too expensive.. but knowing enough so i wont hurt myself starting out..

    #
    Amy LaBorde So many times…

    #
    Heather Nicole Mc I used to cry when we did any chest opening exercises.

    #
    ·
    #
    Patricia Fillmore i do alot of hot yoga- camel – huge heart opener' gets me in touch -unresolved grief- with all tha sweat-no one knws i'm crying like crazy many times in those rooms- after my Mom's death … yoga saved my life- literally

    #
    Roni Darugi like a baby :)

    #
    Sharon Norvell ‎..not yet!

    #
    Monica Kriso oooh boy have i! especially lately. it usually all comes flowing out at the end for me.

    #
    Rhonda K Scott absolutely…during song..very moving!

    elephantjournal.com Come to Slovenia Waylon. I'll give you a Yoga class that'll make you cry mate ;)
    via Ben Ralston

    #
    Diane Marie Here is my theory: Men are taught NOT to cry, that it is a sign of "weakness", therefore, women cry far more than men. Crying releases toxins. Toxins cause cancer and other diseases. Women outlive men 7-1. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
    ·
    #
    C Aurora de Blas I cry all the time in yoga.

    #
    Cynthia Ackerman Lowry Have had my moments and usually have needed the release.

    #
    Laura Thompson yes. my teacher was not amused

    #
    Laura Maschal Have cried – and one time, had a HUGE attack of the giggles…it was so embarassing and still, I couldn't stop. I'm sure the person across the studio from me thought I was laughing at him, but truly, I couldn't stop. Just giggled away, the whooole class, as silently as possible. :)

    #
    Catherine Hahn yes….tears roll gently from my eyes in Savasana, sometimes…I like it

    #
    Liz Strause yoga is life. yoga lets us experience pent up emotions, all levels…

    #
    Amy Marquis Yep, last spring, in Savasana, after my dad's memorial service, when I realized how boundless we really are, and that my dad and I would never really be apart.

    #
    Remy Chevalier Either that or you crack under pressure, the vessel irreparably damaged. 19th Nervous Breakdown

    #
    elephantjournal.com ‎@Laura – the giggling thing is also common. I've had students a few times do that… I try to encourage it when it happens, because i think it's at least as big a release as crying. Ben

    #
    elephantjournal.com ‎@Amy… beautiful, just beautiful. Ben

    #
    Joe Sparks Yoga class is a safe place where one can be human, to let go and feel the hurts and to discovery the truth of one's being human, together.

    #
    elephantjournal.com I don't doubt it, Ben! ~ Waylon

  12. Diane says:

    Yes, in janu sirsasana, ustrasana, even in savasana.

  13. lindsayyoga says:

    There is one teacher's class here in Asheville that I often cry in. It is a challenging vinyasa class … I'll be going along fine and then a song will come on that just triggers something in me. Soon I am just balling. Most of my yoga-crying episodes are triggered by music … and I am so grateful for the release.

    I cried a LOT at teacher training.

  14. Meg says:

    I’m SO glad to read this article. I have cried many times in yoga, but I always thought I was the only one. I thought that maybe something was wrong with me. I sometimes cry because I’m feeling hormonal, because I’ve had a terrible week, because the teacher says something profound, and sometimes for what seems like no reason at all. I’m not typically a “crier” but sometimes that emotion hits during class and I just let it happen. And I feel so much more in touch with my own self and so much lighter when I leave the studio.

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