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November 30, 2015

A Moving Meditation: Why We Cry in Yoga.

Flickr/Axel Naud

My aunt will be 59 in January. She has recently taken up yoga.

I am a yogi, and since she’s taken up the practice, she’ll send me Facebook messages about her most recent experiences in class—what she loves, what she struggles with and what she has questions about.

Last week’s message was my favorite:

“How common is it to cry during Vinyasa? I’ve had five—count ‘em five—classes where I have left with red eyes. At the last one, after finishing a restorative yoga class and laying in the most vulnerable of positions, the instructor played “Imagine” by the Beatles—I lost it.”

My response:

It can be pretty common. It didn’t happen to me for a long time, but eventually—as I began to soften and crack open in other areas of my life—the tears began to flow through those cracks in my practice.

The physical yoga practice is water for the soul—the oil for our machine. It’s what nourishes that tiny piece of raw love in all of us that’s moist and pink and fleshy—that piece that keeps us alive—our heart.

Yoga is a mind, body and spirit practice. We are moving, twisting and stretching emotions that lay dormant, or stuck, in our bodies. This is how yoga differs from other forms of exercise and sport—it’s an inward journey propelled by our own physical body in our outward, public asana (yoga practice).

How I’ve come to perceive the emotional piece that can show up in asana is the way in which it differentiates itself from sport. In sport, we are releasing and expending energy—either into the ground, into a ball or into our racket or stick. Whatever the sport is doesn’t matter. We are, in some way, directing our energy—which is full of emotions with frequencies—elsewhere.

In yoga, we move with these emotions.

We don’t get to shoot them into a net, or leave them behind us on the trail. We intentionally release and expend our emotional energy into the mat, which then cycles back through us every time we come back in contact with it.

Yoga is a moving meditation.

While a sitting meditation is a practice in stillness and quieting the mind, yoga is a practice in moving with our thoughts. Yoga is a short-circuit physical practice—we release energy and gain it back with every inhale and exhale—the refuel is immediate.

When we practice yoga in a class with other students, we are all doing the same routine and sharing the same breath with each other. This means that we may all be releasing emotions with the same energetic frequency, because we’re moving and breathing together. Therefore, we’re much more likely to pick up on someone else’s emotions, when they’re vibrating at the same frequency as our own.

Our emotional sensitivity can potentially increase 10-fold, depending on how deeply we drop into our practice. The tears that flow through our cracks during our practice may not be all our own. They may in fact be, wet empathy.

Yoga is so much more than the sum of its parts, but in its physical part—the asana—we can intensely experience this liquid compassion.

Those wet and salty tears remind us that we’re alive—that we still hold in our bodies, that moist and pink and fleshy piece of raw love. Our big, beating heart.

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Relephant: 

Yoga is Where I Let the Healing Tears Flow.

Crying in a Yoga Class.

 

Author: Savannah Robinson

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Axel Naud

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Savannah Robinson