Why Does Yoga Make Me Cry?

Written by Tiffany Hill

I used to be afraid of taking yoga classes in a group setting. Not due to my form. Not because I felt insecure about my practice, but because at some point during the class I would start crying. I'm very empathetic and sensitive by nature, so I am prone to crying. I can swell up with tears of sorrow and joy very quickly if I'm moved.

Crying during classes made me feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and crazy. I felt like everyone was wondering what was wrong with me. Heck, I was wondering what was wrong with me. Whenever I was in a class and felt the tears spring up, I would focus my whole attention on not crying. I was fighting my practice. If I would have just released the tears and breathed through the process, these experiences would have been nothing short of a miracle.

The crying spells became overwhelming, so I stopped attending classes. I decided to just practice at home. But something was missing. Yoga in a group setting with an instructor is richer. It’s like actually going to church as opposed to watching it on TV. There's something majestic about being in a room filled with people allowing God to flow through their bodies.

Before going back to classes, I asked my yoga teacher what it meant when I cried during practice. She told me I was releasing something that needed to get out. It was healing and transformative.

It made sense. That year was filled with change. I just moved to a new city, got over a breakup, started a new job, was trying to build a business and heal physically. I have diverticulitis, which means I have small holes in my colon that flare up when I stress, eat poorly or don’t exercise. Stress really induces my flare ups. That year, my focus was on managing stress. I had to let go of a lot of things. I read a typed healing affirmation to myself every day and I truly believe my body was listening to the words and doing the work.

My body was breaking up some past baggage and blockages I was carrying in my womb, my heart and my body. Yoga has always been my place of solitude. I can take all my problems and joys to the mat and breathe through them. I don’t cry nearly as much as I use to, but now when the feeling arises I just go with it. I tell myself I'm releasing something pinned up in my kidney, spine or liver. I imagine all the cells in my body dancing and releasing toxins. I envision that I'm getting over the remains of some disappointment from the past and releasing my need to control something in my present.

They say we hold all of our experiences on a cellular level. There is no pill I can take that would heal me in this way. I applaud my tears now. I see the connection as a miraculous source of healing and restoration.

So, the next time you are in class and you feel those tears emerging, just let them go.

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