Yoga is about many things, you hear yoga teachers say “this is yoga” and “that is yoga” and they are correct. Some would even argue that yoga is “about everything”.
We are fortunate that one of the things that the practice of hatha yoga is all about is releasing that stuff we hang on to. By the word stuff – I am referring to day to day experiences and emotions. We are bombarded with information, interaction, and stimulates. One of our coping mechanisms is to overlook events and experiences or to forget about them. (Especially the unpleasant ones)
We can put our feelings and struggles our in the back of our minds if that’s what we choose to do. Nevertheless our spiritual bodies have had these experiences too and they are imprinted by them. These imprints manifest in many different ways. They can show up as a sore knee or a knot in your back or a tight hamstring. In the study of the metaphysical there is a similar imprinting or patterning called samskara. Samskaras are deeper imprints on the spirit, and they are often manifested as larger or more intense emotional reactions, or addictions. The intensity of samskaras depend on many factors. Samskaras deserve their very own blog post so consider this a preview. Certainly yoga can assist with samskaras and changing the patterns in our life, but what I’m addressing here are experiences that we have most recently. (AKA stress)
In yoga, the stretching , moving and twisting goes deep into the subtle and emotional bodies. When we “tune in” we can access what we need to adjust (knowingly or unknowingly) and tweak it. This release can happen during or after postures. Yoga can access the specific chakras at the depth in the subtle bodies where your stuff is located. Very commonly we see the releases after Camel pose or during a deep lunges.
There are countless places where we hold our emotions and store things that we don’t necessarily want to deal with. Depending on your self-awareness you can tell which postures are going to affect you. Hopefully you do not avoid the postures you need! Obviously you may contact the heart chakra and you may experience joy or sadness. Perhaps if you hold a lot of emotion and unpleasantness in your armpits. Postures such as Dancer’s pose or Bow where the triceps are stretched and the armpits are exposed, create a possibility that you will experience a release. (Armpits? Yes think about it. We are always worried about our armpits being stinky, sweaty, hairy or offensive. We keep our arms down by our sides to protect “our pits”, It’s a great place to hide stuff.)
A release doesn’t have to be negative or associated with tears. Most often it is more pleasant stuff, like good ideas or funny thoughts or just experiencing openness and better understanding. You experience some release in every yoga class- even in those classes that leave you feeling “eh, no big deal”. Yoga doesn’t always have to be a “thing”. Whether you get tears, laughter or just tired- always you get the subtle cleansing of the spirit.