It is a rare occurrence but I have had students cry in my yoga class. I have cried in yoga class. The tears are not from any physical pain caused by the yoga postures, so why does this happen?
Yoga and Emotional Healing
“The body remembers everything and holds unprocessed tension”, Melody Moore, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and registered yoga teacher says. “When we move our bodies and breathe, it gives us an opportunity to work out that tension. As it releases, so too does the emotional story or baggage.”
Karol Ward and other therapists maintain that the body holds on to feelings, even if it seems the mind has dealt with them. “So if a person has the opportunity to relax that area, whatever has been held there can come to the surface,” Ward says. “The body wants to complete the emotional experience.” ¹
Awaken Your Body – Movement is Medicine
Certainly, one of the reasons we go to yoga class is to release tension but understanding that memories, and the emotions attached to those memories, are held, even trapped inside our muscles is a revelation. The stretches and exercises we do in yoga release pent-up emotions, adding another perk to the holistic benefits of yoga.
Some say crying is more common in hip-opener poses like Pigeon pose. That is the pose I was doing when a repressed memory and emotion flooded to the surface and had me weeping.
“The yoga mat is our own personal island where any emotions we feel—joy, dread, exhilaration or despair—can all surface safely here without judgement. A good yoga practice taps directly into our core and reality of what’s happening in our lives, so it can be an emotional release depending on what we’ve been denying or holding in. It’s a fabulous place for sweet release and surrender which leads to healing.” – Kathryn Budig, (yoga author & instructor)
Yoga and the Psyche
I think, when you soften your heart and body you find your true spiritual essence and improve your yoga practice. Yoga teacher, Marc Holzman clarifies this; “We wear thick, protective, armor. Our survival tactics are well in place and have accumulated over a lifetime. After a deep practice, when you least expect it … even when you’ve had an ordinary day … some of that armor melts. The thick outer shield softens and gives way to a softer more vulnerable layer. We surrender just a little bit. We give up the fight. Emotions can easily make their way to the surface.”
Mariana Caplan, Ph.D., and author explains, “The body contains the memory of the whole life we have lived,” so many emotions—sadness, fear, anger, arousal—can pop up in class when you’re not as focused on your day-to-day demands.
If you ever do find yourself crying in yoga class, remember this is healing, let the tears flow in gratitude and take Caplan’s advice. “The body just needs to release sometimes,” she says. “Allow it to happen and don’t make too much of a story. Let it be and trust it’s a positive thing.” ²
Best in health, Linda
“Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me.” – Psalms 31: 16 (NLT)
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