Do you ever feel emotionally unsettled or blocked but not really sure what’s bothering you?
That’s exactly what I was experiencing this morning.
Something was trying to get my attention but my mind was distracted.
I knew that after my morning yoga practice it would become more clear what that emotion was because I’ve used yoga before to process my blocked emotions.
What do I mean by this?
Well, you’ve also probably felt foggy and irritated without knowing why. And you may even find yourself getting rude or short with people you love. This is because we are constantly bombarded all day with stimulation. We rush around with a long to-do list and responsibilities. We have work and worries. We don’t have time to sit with our true feelings. We look to other people’s behavior or faults to explain why we feel awful.
We may not have any capacity left in our nervous system to allow any more irritation or stimulation so we ignore or repress it.
We get lost in the busyness.
But on the yoga mat, there are no distractions. It’s just you feeling your body sensations and your breath.
Many people who practice yoga will tell you that emotions will eventually rise up to the surface during your practice. Most yogis have experienced crying during yoga at some point.
This is completely normal.
Our body stores our old emotions and traumas. It makes sense that when doing a physical and yet meditative and reflective practice like yoga that this would happen.
During my practice, often I will experience the surfacing of buried emotions and body sensations. For me, the big stuff is usually unearthed during hip openers and chest and throat expansions.
But today after about half an hour of practice, I still felt blocked.
Frustrated, I chose a more challenging routine by my favorite yogini, Seane Corn. Her book, Revolution of the Soul: Awaken to Love Through Raw Truth, Radical Healing, and Conscious Action, is what inspired me to start doing yoga every morning and to begin deepening my understanding of yoga by going beyond the asana or physical poses. I knew when I finished her book I was going to go through Yoga Teacher Training someday to study the 8 limbs of yoga.
As I tried to keep up with Seane in the video, my fatigued muscles started to tremble and I felt a wave of fear start to emerge. I felt the wave’s power growing in my heart and as it crashed I felt the lump in my throat open as I started crying.
I let the emotion come up and express itself. I feel it in waves. I hold the space for it. And when I do that it becomes so clear where the emotion is coming from in the body as well as the origin of false beliefs behind it. It’s just part of the continual process of being a witness to myself. Of getting to a place of safety so that the emotion can be fully felt and then decide to leave on its own.
I realized it was the fear of losing people I love. Of watching them get sick, suffer, and die as I’m powerless to stop it. The fear of being forgotten by my partner and family due to a cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s.
Ohhhhh. This is my deep fear of abandonment.
The fear of being left alone physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I have had this fear as a kid when I felt like no one else saw the world the way I did and no one ever knew what I was talking about. To protect me from rejection, I pushed aside my deeper emotions and thoughts and denied specific parts of myself. I abandoned myself so that I’d be loved and accepted by my family.
It was the best that I could do as a kid.
The fear may not have fully left me yet but it’s not hidden in the dark and running the show anymore. I can catch it happening now. I don’t have to react unconsciously when I feel hurt. I don’t automatically beat myself up. I have more space between the emotion, the story, and my Self.
Deepening My Self Study
Using hatha yoga or yoga asanas – which is just the physical part of yoga – can really help us process and release old patterns. But as I’m learning more in my yoga teacher training course, it helps to practice all 8 limbs of yoga.
As a result of sticking to this practice is over time I’ve become more aware of what I’m feeling and why as well as less emotionally reactive. I noticed particular stories and false beliefs that normally shape my behavior start to fade and lose their power over me.
This process builds your awareness, and self-knowledge, and allows you to fully feel and accept the emotions so they are released. Of course, some things may be too big for us to handle all at once – in which case things may be revealed to you in layers or a bit at a time. Or they may be too much to process alone, so it’s important to get professional help if you feel too overwhelmed.
Your body and emotions need your attention. Without your full attention and willingness to show up and really listen, emotions can overtake you and will often come out in unconscious fearful ways throughout the day. It will affect your perception and your relationships. It will negatively impact every area of life because you would be acting from a place of fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, or anger.
Why not actively work on clearing your body and mind?
I recommend working with the body to really help you feel them and become aware of their place of origin. Your emotions happen in the body. The body and mind are really one and the same. The separation we feel between them is only a result of needing to detach from the body during pain and trauma. Realizing wholeness again takes patience and holistic practice.
Yoga Can Offer Liberation
Yoga literally means union. We are bringing the bodymind together and mending the break between them as well as uniting Self with Source.
It’s about expanding your consciousness to include the All as One and freeing yourself of your samskaras, or psychological imprints and emotional patterns.
After a more intense yoga practice like the one I had this morning, I like to journal to help myself get a better understanding of what came up. Sometimes I start writing things out to prove to myself that the stories I tell myself are not true. That I am worthy, valuable, loved, whole, enough, capable, and perfectly human as I am.
I have been committed to doing a yoga asana practice every morning for about a year now. I haven’t been perfect but I am really proud of myself for making this commitment to myself when I do tend to lack follow-through! Now, I’m hoping to bring you more articles on the spiritual practice of yoga as I go through my yoga teacher training.
And don’t worry!
Not every yoga practice will leave you curled up in your own tear puddle on the mat. But if you commit to this practice just be prepared that it may happen from time to time according to what your body needs.
Have you ever experienced a yoga release? What came up for you? Were you able to learn from it? Have you ever considered using yoga as a way to process blocked emotions before? Would you consider going to a yoga therapist? What about yoga teacher training as a way to deepen your practice in a more holistic way?
Let me know in the comments!