August 24, 2010

Sobbing in Savasana?

“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.

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