Hot Yoga Session 13: Yoga Can Evoke Deep Emotion

This post is part of my January 2012 30 Days of Hot Yoga series. This month I’m taking on a personal challenge to complete 30 sessions of hot yoga at Baptiste Studios in 30 days in celebration of my 30th birthday. Wish me luck!

Yoga can evoke emotion in you that you didn’t know you had. I’ve cried. I’ve been frustrated. I’ve been angry for no reason. Today was an example of just such an experience.

Today, in the middle of my practice, as I took a seated twist, it hit me – like a ton of bricks, like a freight train, like some other very unexpected, very massive surprise would – I felt this immense, boiling-over streak of anger well up inside me. It was overwhelming. And, what was worse, it was completely outside of my control.

So I let it happen.

And it radiated out of me into the room. I could see its ripple across my neighbors, as if they were physically hit by my anger bomb. Still, I worked through the poses. I began to let it carry me through my practice, being mindful that it was me doing yoga, not the anger. And I felt it radiate out of me. I felt others adjust to it – not because anyone could see or hear it, but because I sensed that they could feel it.

When I felt ready, I brought myself into child’s pose, as if taking it all inside – all at once, I let it boil up inside me, and then – in one powerful motion – let it out in one radiant sun salutation.

It was a remarkable and jarring experience that I am honestly struggling to find the words to describe. The good news is, it passed. And the better news is that other people have had these experiences – and share them as well. According to Divine Caroline,

“Though a sudden onset of emotions during a routine yoga session takes many practitioners by surprise, it’s really an important part of the discipline. That’s because there’s no differentiation between the mind, the body, and human emotions within yoga. They’re all connected, and, as such, they all affect each other. Yogis will tell you that when something weighs you down mentally, it’ll likely weight you down physically, too.”

The article goes on to add:

“Poses that tap into tension in the hips, chest, and back seem to prompt emotional releases most often during yoga sessions.”

Which is exactly how I experienced it. And as I look back on the poses that I love and the poses I loathe, I can almost trace the target location back to the emotion I attach to the experience I have in the pose:

“Frustration and anger could manifest in spinal tension, heartbreak and depression could linger in the chest, and emotional pain from the past could lie dormant in the hip flexors”

seated twist pose

Great article from Giam TV further explains four poses and their connection to emotion

I think the jarring part of these experiences, for me, is the fact that the experiences wasn’t directly tied to something in my consciousness. It was an active thought that I had recently. In fact, I struggled to consider where the emotion could be coming from. And perhaps that’s what made it easier to allow myself to fully experience it, let it pass, and move on.

Still, I look forward to a re-do tomorrow. As much as I appreciate being in the moment and appreciating my experiences as they happen, I also really want to have a positive, uplifting experience. And, at this point in my personal challenge, I think my body has earned some joy and radiance.

Looking forward to tomorrow!