I cried my eyes out during the first few poses of my Bikram Yoga class this morning, to the point that I almost left the hot room. I had to face something in my life today that I knew that was going to be very difficult emotionally. And I guess the release during my practice served as an emotional preamble to my day. For the first few poses, even though yoga is supposed to be a place of meditation, I couldn’t shake what I knew awaited me today… and felt in every pose, there was something I was doing that was wrong, not good enough, that my body even felt weak, and my mind was racing with what I was going to face later in the day. Between the sweat and tears, my eyes were burning and I could barely see. In a room full of beautiful yogis, I felt very alone and weak inside and out.
A regular yoga practice can sometimes be a wonderful substitute to a visit to a therapist or taking an anti-depressant. As a psychotherapist, I am constantly encouraging people to open up and allow themselves to be vulnerable. To share, purge, cry, scream… whatever expression of emotions works in getting out what needs to be released. In the hot yoga room.. all that sweat and twisting of one’s organs must also be doing something to get things out.
But something happened right before one of my favorite poses, the Standing Bow PoseDandayamana-Dhanurasana(Sanskrit), a balancing pose where one leg remains on the ground, the knee is locked, the other leg is in the grasp of your hand and is kicked behind you, your foot will appear over your head, and eventually your kicking leg will be as straight as the leg on the ground. In other words, a standing spilt. All I did was concentrate on my standing knee and made sure it was locked… took a breath and with razor sharp focus began to kick my leg over behind my head. Everything else went away. The tears stopped, and I felt strong, powerful and graceful. Yoga is an active meditation. When you meditate, you do not think of “nothing” that is virtually impossible… it’s very difficult to turn off your brain. But when concentrating on one thing, one moment, meditation is possible. And for the remainder of the class, that’s all I did, concentrate on the moment, then on to the next one.
Life is hard. Sometimes unbearable. Much of the work I do as a therapist is with people that are actively suffering through horrible circumstances in their lives. But eventually, healing, clarity and a new perspective surfaces.
So if you feel like crying… by all means, cry… If you are so angry you need to yell… then get it out. You’re body needs this emotional release in order to find that place of healing and peace. And I am ever so grateful, I have that place in a very hot room.