When Yoga Makes You Cry
I suppose it’s not something people who do yoga really warn you about when you’re thinking of joining a yoga class for the first time. I suppose they don’t want to deter you from what they’ve more than likely found to be a profoundly valuable and positive experience.
But the little secret is that sometimes yoga makes you cry.
Somehow society has conditioned us to do everything in our power not to cry in front of people, except maybe our spouse, mom or the dog/cat/pet canary. But sometimes a cry is completely impossible to control, and frankly I don’t see why it should be suppressed. From a yoga instructor’s perspective, it certainly doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable, and I’m confident that a group of friends/acquaintances in a group yoga class are going to be nothing but empathetic and supportive to anyone who is overcome with emotion.
But you may wonder why it even happens. Aren’t we meant to be blissing out here in our yoga?
Well in defense of the general “positive” perception of yoga, I’d first like to suggest that it’s not necessarily “negative” to feel compelled to cry in a yoga class, or afterwards. I think it just comes down to the unpredictability of our emotions. On other days, or even most days, you may well feel completely blissed out, ecstatically content and even euphoric after your yoga class. The odd sobbing session is just your emotions manifesting that day, at that time, based on whatever baggage you’ve brought to class.
I believe we, our bodies/minds/emotions, are different every single day. And by extension, we start each yoga class from a different place emotionally. So some days you may start class a little more burdened than usual, quite possibly without even recognizing it. We may be burdened by worries about finances, relationships, work, injuries, whatever. The list is practically endless. Our baggage may not be from our life right now, but it could be from a trauma from a long time ago that we’re still carrying around.
What happens is that when we get into our yoga class, and we are actively and purposely working to relieve tension, we are also releasing some kind of stressor that caused that tension. The stressor of course may not be that you did a twenty-five minute 5K run the previous morning and are feeling a little tight in the hamstrings. It could easily be anxiety, concern, or just plain sadness over something going on in your life.
So as we move and stretch to release the physical tension in our bodies, we release emotional tensions too. And if that emotion is a sad one we may feel the overwhelming and uncontrollable need to cry. And that’s totally okay. My hope for anyone who has cried or cries in yoga, is that you leave a little bit lighter, a little bit clearer, and a little better able to keep working through your worries. I also hope that this overwhelming emotion is one of brightness and of bliss.
8 Ways to Be Your Own Guru
No matter how we define a teacher or a guru—an expert, an enlightened person, or someone who challenges us to look at our own limiting beliefs—they’re ways we look for wisdom outside of ourselves. These kinds of teachers are no doubt powerful. But the most powerful source of wisdom is within. How do we activate our own inner teacher—our own inner guru—so we always have someone there for guidance and support?
The most powerful source of wisdom is within you. This is what I help every single person I work with realize—that they are infinitely powerful and the only thing getting in the way of that is surface stuff. When we clear the surface, it’s like polishing a rough stone into a diamond. Suddenly, you’re crystal clear, knowing exactly where to go and what to do next.
The most important work I do with people is helping them access their own inner guru. Here are eight ways to access yours:
Talk less, listen more. You can hear or see exactly where to go and what to do next if you give yourself permission to trust the non-verbal part of your brain. We’re all intuitive, and one of the most scientifically proven ways to tap into it is to listen to the non-verbal part of your brain: your body.
Deactivate fear. Fear comes mostly in the form of worrisome thoughts. And these come from the verbal part of our brain—this part of our brain processes less information per second than the non-verbal part of our brain. In other words, worries are “less informed” thoughts.
Lean into peace. Wisdom and truth feel like relief, like a great letting-go. It’s a wonderful sensation of “Ah, this is such a nice place to rest.” Every time one of my clients hears from their inner guru, they feel a sense of great peace and presence.
Trust yourself. Practice trusting yourself with small things, something less consequential where the decision won’t have a huge impact, but a small one. Something like saying no to an invitation to an event you don’t want to go to. Worry and fear says things like, “She’ll be upset if I don’t go,” or “I won’t be invited anymore.” Peace says, “Do what’s right for you, trust yourself, and all will be well.” Usually what happens in these cases is that everything works out, and you end up getting even more invitations because people are drawn to your confidence and self-esteem.
Trust the universe. Practice opting out of doing something just because you think something like “What will happen if I don’t?” Yoga philosophy has a term called Ishvara Pranidhana that basically means surrender to the universe. It doesn’t mean we never do anything, but we can surrender our attachment to achieving a particular outcome, and through that surrender and non-attachment receive something even greater.
Build your intuition. Next time you want to hear from your inner guru and you’ve already listened to your body, listen for words or watch for symbols. I like to imagine a blank slate and ask a question like “What should I do next?” Sometimes I see a symbol. Other times I hear a word or phrase—things like “Rest,” “Play,” or “Go bigger.” Other times an entire scene unfolds.
Trust your body. Intuition is fun and can give us more information, but first and foremost the first line of wisdom is your body. Your body is constantly guiding you, through sensations of tension and angst or ease and presence. Hint: ease and presence usually means “Go this way!”
Lean into grace. Listening to the guidance of your inner guru leads to choices that create a life filled with less striving and more receiving. Taoists introduce us to the concept of Wu Wei, doing without doing. Through heart-centred action and trusting the universe, things happen with ease. Miracles occur. It was either Yogi Bhajan or Wayne Dyer, depending on which source you choose, who said: “I don’t believe in miracles, I depend on them.” It doesn’t matter who said it, it’s a universal truth, and one that you get to experience firsthand when you start listening deep and choosing to believe.
Much love, and good luck!