Yoga is a practice that can bring us closer to ourselves, and this can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it can help us to become more aware of our anxieties and feelings, but on the other hand, this awareness can make us feel more anxious. It's important to remember that these feelings were always there, and yoga has simply made us more aware of them. Through its characteristic movements, breathing, and rhythm, yoga uses tension and release to help us process, relax, and change our long-standing patterns of emotions, including fear, sadness, and anxiety.
For many people, stretching and opening their hips and back can help to release stress and anxiety when it is mild. Physical stress can be processed gently through breathing and concentration. However, if the anxiety is too strong, it can overwhelm the person holding the posture, requiring deeper concentration and healing. It took me years to realize that this “new me” was the same me as before, only without the unhealthy addiction to yoga that had allowed me to ignore a deeper issue: my inability to sit with myself and accept my thoughts and emotions.
I stopped listening to any yoga teacher who told me how to breathe, which is when my practice became deeper and stronger. I knew that an upcoming move to the UK could be a major trigger factor in my life, so I decided to equip myself with a yoga teacher certification in order to cope with the move. For six months I put a splint on my wrist and stopped actively practicing yoga. Instead I focused on a complete yoga practice that included asanas (postures), pranayama (breath control), meditation, the study of the Yamas and Niyamas (the Ten Commandments of Yoga), mudra, and chanting. It was much harder for me to admit that yoga could no longer help me, and that I had been covering up a deeper issue all along. Yoga can be an intense physical activity but it can also bring our brains into a neutral and deeply focused state.
If you experience emotional release during a yoga class, it should be seen as a gift rather than something to be afraid of. Not only do you get physical benefits such as strength and flexibility from practicing yoga, but you also get emotional benefits too. This made me think about Vinyasa yoga and the way yoga teachers (including myself) teach breathing. According to my personal observation of tens of thousands of students as well as knowledge of the science involved, crying in yoga is normal.