Why Yoga Studios Invest in Tissues

July 8th, 2008

Yoga literally means union. Being a part of something larger than ourselves but also finding unity in ourselves; body, mind and spirit.

Of course that means on the mat, we are more than our physical posture. Our Warrior pose is more than a lunge that tones the butt and stretches the hamstrings. Our Warrior becomes an opportunity to be in our power, to bring our inner strength and determination into physical play. Warrior brings us the chance to connect our inner power with the divine power of our community and our planet. A yogi would be hard pressed to lovingly hold virabhadrasana eka (warrior 1) and not feel a sense of inner strength being nurtured as much as their calves and quads working hard.

But what happens when we have a bad day? When our inner strength feels minimized by the rougher waves of life? What about a co-worker who inadvertantly strips you of dignity with a bad joke? Then someone pushes their way ahead of you in line as you run out of time on your lunch break? In the afternoon a great idea you had for a project fails to get funding? Your best friend moves across the country and the neighbors dog left a steaming gift in your garden? What happens when you show up at Yoga class feeling powerless?

To be whole and practice union we can not simply leave our emotions in the change room with our shoes. Maybe we unroll the mat and find our bodies invited into Warrior and our legs tremble and the the mind wanders off to a bowl of popcorn, the couch and a favorite movie. We may try and leave the losses of our day behind as we determinedly cast our gaze to the wall beyond the teacher and we think we are getting stronger, burning away our heart aches, being in the moment. Right?

Maybe. At least until Vira Eka is transformed to Vira Dwi (warrior 2), a hip opens, followed by the shoulders and there is a good chance those tissues ever present in the corner of the room are waiting to wipe away tears. Hip and heart openers have a grand way of freeing emotions. remember this guy?To practice Yoga, to find union in ourselves it is not possible to deny the emotional body that even when it seems invisible travels along with our physical bodies, especially to the Yoga mat.

It’s okay to cry in Yoga class. It’s why we invest in tissues.

It’s also okay to let your body out of the powerful seat of standing squat or warrior 1 and rest in the safety of childs pose with the tissues nearby. No one will think you are weird. Your teacher will not think you are being a wimp. Your teacher will likely know that you are practicing Yoga beyond the physical experience and I hope he or she will allow you to feel safe and comfortable doing so. Don’t be surprised though, if you leave Yoga feeling better, more open to the joy that allows us to appreciate the doggy gift as an opportunity to get out in the garden and smell the flowers after you have disposed of th poo, of course.

Here is a great blog on the same topic written by Julie Deardorff who says “The issues show up in the tissues”. She is not referring to the tissues that come in a box.

Could yoga make you cry?
Yoga as therapy: ‘The issues show up in the tissues’

In yoga, the hips do more than help us stand and move; they store some of our emotional baggage. Loosen them up through a series of physical postures, and you might feel an inexplicable urge to weep.

When it happened to me after a vigorous hip-opening class, I was bewildered; I had no idea where the tears were coming from. Read the rest here.

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