I always make sure to remind practitioners in my yoga classes that it is very normal to release emotion during your practice - whether that’s crying, needing to leave the room, feeling anger rise up or even feeling elated. And I know that can be scary for a lot of people. Myself included, being that vulnerable around a group of strangers can be hard to fathom. But yoga - and especially yin yoga - can help release some emotional blockages and allow us to fully feel our emotions.
If you don’t know already - what is yin?
Yin yoga is a type of yoga in which poses are held anywhere from 2 and 10 minutes, allowing your body to sit with the poses. This means deep muscles can be engaged, and energy channels can be stimulated. When I completed my Yin Training we focused on Traditional Chinese Medicine and using these meridians as a basis for our yin practice.
Yin is not restorative. An important distinction as restorative puts no pressure on the body through props relieving the stimulus. Whereas in yin there is an edge that you sit with - your fascia, bones, ligaments, joints and connective tissues are all being stimulated.
And we can hold emotions here.
Fascia is the keyword here. Fascia is the connective tissue that looks like a mesh, and covers your whole body. It wraps around your organs, nerves, bones - everything. And fascia responds to trauma by becoming more dehydrated (or that’s what we think so far) getting more solid. When you feel emotions over and over this posture solidifies. And yoga starts to gently massage these out.
Think about when you last felt super happy, did you stand a little straighter with your chest out. And last time you were a little down, were your shoulders hunched and spine a little rolled.
So why might you be feeling emotional?
1. You may be sitting with yourself for the first time - especially if you lead a super busy life. Something may have upset you but you just don’t have time with work etc. and so you keep going. Then you turn up to a yin class and it’s an hour of sitting with yourself. No distractions. This can be super confronting.
2. You may have pushed an emotional edge - It’s easy for us to know where our physical limits lie. But it may be that you don’t quite know your emotional edges, if your teacher cues you to set an intention, or reflect on anything holding you back you may dig a little too deep.
3. You may have experienced trauma - trauma experiences get bound in our bodies. Whether it’s serious trauma that you need to work through with a professional, or something smaller that your body reacts to as trauma. I’d recommend a book titled ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ if you are interested in this topic.
4. You’re a little more in tune with your body - when moving through poses you might be invited to check in with the body, what’s tight or loose etc. Turning this lens inwards might mean you’re a little more in tune with the body and therefore the emotions that might come with it.
5. You may start to release expectations - yin is focused on sitting with your edge. And on releasing expectations of how an asana should look. You may be slowly starting to let go of what doesn’t serve you - and some emotions may be part of that. Or you forgive yourself for holding yourself to such high expectations. This can be extremely releasing…
And if you don’t feel emotional after yin yoga that’s absolutely fine too! Although it may be worth reflecting if you notice any change in how you deal with emotions outside of the class - sometimes it’s a knock on effect not a visceral reaction.
Just know at any point you can back away from a pose if the emotion is ever too much. We want you to sit with yourself, and if it feels good then face those emotions. But if it doesn’t feel good then maybe wait for another time. Another practice.