November 8, 2014

Yoga is Where I Let the Healing Tears Flow.

Let the good tears roll.
I have been an emotional person all of my life. 

I wear my heart on my sleeve proudly. I guess tears are not an uncommon occurrence.

When I took my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), I went in wanting to learn more about yoga—not the asanas—and the reason we feel the way we do after class and all of the philosophy of this ancient practice. I wanted to learn about the chakras, meditation and connecting on a new level. I didn’t sign up to be a teacher but later I realized that it’s a gift I need to share. It makes me feel whole to pass the benefits on to others, in hopes they too will see the beauty once they step off their mat.

What I didn’t expect, in retrospect I guess I should have figured, was that I was going to cry. And quite. A. Bit. Emotions and trauma from my childhood, past relationships and my own self-worth issues all came to the surface at different times from singing bowls to an open heart meditation. Eventually, I learned about the direct correlation between what’s going on in our world and the chakras in our bodies. I learned which emotions are usually stored in the different areas of the body and the release of this energy can result in a variety of feelings from being nauseous, angry, enraged, blissful or sad. Meditation can produce these same reactions and include sleeplessness and nightmares. The next day, you can feel flat out drained. Energetically, you are. I sure was.

But before you decide, oh hell no to this yoga thing, let me explain that crying is a good thing. Crying releases the emotional baggage finally leaving you, allowing space for more positivity and love to take its place. In the moment, it may not feel so great, even a little scary, but in the end you’ll feel so much better.

So here’s the scenario. True story.

I’m on my mat, practicing an hour of Sun Salutations. The music is perfect. The sweat is dripping. I’m incorporating some backbends in Urdhva Hastasana (hands over head) and getting deeper in cobra/up-dog.  I’m thinking, “This is great.” Exactly what I needed after arguing with my husband earlier that day. Just clear my head. Focus on my breathing. Inhale then exhale. Engaging Ujjayi, or Victorious, breath. Feeling the heat over my body.

I have a timer to keep track and approximately 30 minutes in, I’m hit with a wave of emotion coming out of forward fold to standing. My hands come to heart center and I let the tears flow. There were no thoughts of my argument earlier, nor any other specific feelings in my mind. It was just a deep-seated emotion that finally made its way to the surface. I slowly worked myself into child’s pose, where I feel the most safe and cried. And it wasn’t a “boo-hoo-hoo, snot dripping down your face kind of cry” but tears releasing themselves gently and rolling down my cheeks.

It felt like a cool, cleansing rain—but for my emotional state of being.

When the feelings passed, I gently flowed back into my rounds of Sun Salutations. Only now, they had more purpose. It’s one of those things you can’t explain but when you feel it—you just know. It’s the other side of yoga and an integral part of a yogi’s development to samadhi (conscious enlightenment). Emotional baggage among other things prevents one from fully connecting to the divine. I’m not saying that your first yogic cry will make you see the white light and totally disconnect from this world but it very well could change your life. Only you will know how you feel, because everyone is different.
Some of the most common reasons for emotional releases during yoga include but are not limited to:

1. Heart openers (i.e. cobra, bow, camel)—makes the heart exposed/vulnerable.

2. Hip openers (i.e. pigeon, butterfly, frog)—we tend to store stress and trauma in this area.

3. Fully connecting to our breath—-which is our life force or prana. Allows for 100% unity of mind, body and soul—the simplest definition of yoga can align these channels and in turn cause a release.

Do not think of these occurrences as breakdowns, but rather breakthroughs. You are evolving. You are exactly where you are supposed to, feeling exactly what you are supposed to be feeling.

Let the good tears roll. Namaste.

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Author: Sarah Gregory

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: courtesy of the author

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