Emotions and yoga generally go hand in hand, whether it is something as simple as you feel happier and calmer after a class or something deeper.
Postures play a huge part in the yogic lifestyle, they were originally put there to do many different things and one is to unlock and free emotions.
Our body stores our emotions, we know this from when we get home with tight shoulders and back ache after a tense day, or when we get excited we feel butterfly’s in our belly. Our mind, thoughts and feelings resound inside us and our body soaks them up.
Unfortunately sometimes these emotions get stuck, normally from us not living them out properly. We live in a very reserved society and we contain a lot of our feelings “put on a brave face” and get on with the task ahead. This is fine and sometimes it’s very necessary but we must go back and address those feelings quickly after otherwise our body locks them in. These locked in emotions cause stiffness/tightness/tension where once there was not, they can also make us feel like we’re carrying a heavy bag everywhere, each movement feels harder than it needs to and our bodies feel tired. The opposite can also happen and we become so used to carrying this baggage around that we start ignoring our bodies and therefore our emotions, locking them away each time something comes up and eventually becoming numb to the world around us.
The problem with this is we may be protecting ourselves against the bad stuff and numbing ourselves to the pain, but by numbing our pain we also numb our joy. You can’t have one without the other. And life becomes very dull.
Through the postures of yoga we explore the body, we move it in ways we wouldn’t normally, we actively seak out the tension and then find ways to start to release it, using movement and breath.
This can make us feel more supple, lighter and generally better. But in the process we can also bring some of these locked in emotions to the surface. At the point when they arrive you may feel anything from a bit sad to horrendous overwhelming grief, to anger all the way to fear.
Unlike counciling we may never know what old event we’re uncovering l, we may just feel the emotion relating to it, but when we do feel it, if we allow ourselves to go with it and ride it out we free ourselves from it. When this happens it’s known as a shift, where something you’ve held onto for a long time goes.
I think of it like the skins of an onion, as life goes on we place layers around ourselves to protect ourselves. When we practice yoga slowly one skin at a time we shed the layers of baggage until one day we end up back to our true selves “before the shit happened”.
So if you find yourself welling up in camel, sobbing in childspose or getting angry in pigeon it’s a good thing I promise, you’re getting somewhere, you’re starting to unlock those long stored up emotions and connecting back with your pure self.
Don’t ever feel embarrassed by shedding a tear, hell I’ve sobbed my way through savassana before when some very traumatic emotions came up. Just allow them to come, your yoga practice is a safe place, release them, don’t squash them back down. Get rid so you can finally move forwards away from the past and into the future.
The aim is to finally use your practice as a daily managing process, so never again do you suppress or lock emotions in, so you truly live them out and therefore save yourself the stress of carrying extra baggage around.