Think back to an early memory when you were told by an adult (a parent perhaps) to stop crying. If you didn’t (stop crying) you might have been punished and sent to your room, smacked or denied the special treat you’d been waiting for all week. Or it could be a memory of being cold, scared or uncomfortable but in an attempt to distract you from this perceived pain, your mum or dad may have tried to make you laugh by pulling a silly face… I think you get the gist of what I mean here.
Whilst often unintended, during these early years of our lives we are being conditioned to suppress our true feelings, to ignore them, via these experiences of being told to stop crying. We learn early on that in showing how we truly feel we could be punished, shamed or made to feel inadequate - so naturally we begin hiding our emotions.
This becomes a vicious cycle leading to a lifetime of insecurity, neurotic tendencies, poor relationships and on and on it goes. Our inability to show how we truly feel means we’ve not only become poor communicators with others, but most importantly, we have become poor communicators with ourselves
Yoga has a beautiful but very confronting way of bringing all of this to the fore. The tenser our body, the more we’re holding onto. As soon as we start to release this tension, all sorts of emotions will begin to come up - anger, fear, aggression, joy, happiness, relief. The list is endless and very dependent upon the individual - upon you and your unique needs, experiences, coping skills and so on. I have a number of students coming to me in tears, feeling powerless over their emotional state. They feel mentally drained, frustrated and angry that they’re getting teary. They don’t want to cry. They want to get on with their practice and focus on the asana and only the asana. But you see, what people often tend to forget, is that yoga is designed to open the body up. Yoga is all about helping people to shift different energies throughout the body in an attempt to bring balance to it. Should someone be holding a lot of suppressed emotions, then they need to be fully experienced in order for the body to truly let them go.
In the west, all too often yoga is treated like an exercise regime or packaged in such a way that people think they’re experiencing something spiritual without actual explanation of why they’re performing certain asanas. How they’re (asana) affecting the physical and non-physcial body. The truth is - we all seek stillness through the practice. To find a place of calm. But it is only through deeply experiencing these forbidden emotions that the stillness can actually come. This is place where self acceptance, love and gratitude can be found. Where genuine contentment exists.
If ever you feel like you’re going a little crazy because your emotions are all over the place; rather than shunning these experiences, look closely at them. Seek to understand what’s going on for you and what’s being moved/released. When you can understand and accept this about yourself and your journey, life becomes a little more colourful. Your practice will deepen and new experiences will continue to unfold.
So remember, if you need to cry - then cry. If you need to laugh, then laugh hard. Experience completely what your body wants to express and embrace the amazing journey that follows.
What emotions has yoga brought up for you and what was the outcome for you? How did you handle these shifts? I would love for you to share your comments below.
Sending huge hugs and love,