Yoga and Emotions

by Michael Lee

Yoga and emotions, what is the connection and why is it that sometimes, quite unexpectedly, you find yourself in tears as you practice?

It is quite common and sometimes referred to as "emotional release".

But why do people sometimes cry spontaneously during a yoga practice for no apparent reason?

To begin with our mind and our bodies are not separate. Yoga helps us relax into our body. Our body also works hard sometimes to "contain" our emotions. When it stops doing this when it becomes more relaxed, the emotions come to the surface.

In my experience this happens more often during a practice that is not too vigorous but also not too easy. The most common occurrences happen when people are holding a posture at a physical edge - not too much and not too little.

The emotional release is made even more possible when there is also an inward focus with both awareness and acceptance. In other words... a kind of "letting go" to the experience without trying to make anything happen and by accepting whatever is happening. (No agenda).

Sometimes people who experience yoga and emotions in this kind of spontaneous emotional release try to recreate it - but they usually cannot. It can't be created or attained by effort. It happens more from letting down than pushing. The yoga and the emotions released just happen spontaneously as one single event.

Why? We all armor ourselves to some extent. We don't want to feel sad, or afraid, or vulnerable. So we use our bodies to protect us from feeling these things in sometimes very subtle and unnoticeable ways. When we get into a yoga stretch and focus our awareness just on being present to whatever is happening to us, our guard is down and the emotions arise.

I believe this is very healthy. It should be allowed and supported. It cannot be contrived. However it is most likely to happen when several conditions are present.

1. Focused awareness

2. Surrender to the experience and the moment.

3. Loving presence (of self or another).

The Phoenix Rising one-on-one yoga therapy session is based on the yoga therapist helping the client create these conditions and then being completely open to whatever happens. (No agenda -no pushing - and if something does happen no diagnosis or interpretation from the practitioner.)

Within a Phoenix Rising session however there is a process that the practitioner guides that enables the client to "self-integrate" the experience and determine if there is any important connection to their life experience and what they may wish to do as a result.

I must emphasize though that this is a totally CLIENT CENTERED approach. This is important as no two people have the same life experience or the same issues. Each one is different and when it comes to our spiritual evolution and growth as a human being there can only be one person deciding the best course for us to take and that is ourselves.

This kind of work can be very much compromised by practitioners who think they can fix people emotionally and bring their own ego into the client/therapist relationship.

Phoenix Rising practitioners are trained to be non-directive and client centered. These are the elements that make it such a powerful, safe, and effective modality.

Have you had an experience of emotional release with yoga? If so please share your story with us and other readers by clicking here.

Yoga to Build Your Emotional IQ

Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy: Theory and Form

Return from Yoga and Emotions to Yoga for Stress