I don’t cry in public, not even at weddings. But the first time I cried in yoga class I was in the dark, surrounded by a group of strangers. In that moment I felt safe enough to cry and left feeling emotionally renewed.
It was a normal Thursday evening yoga class. Three days after my birthday.
Jeri, the instructor who radiated a positive aura, started class with standing series, Surya Namaskar A and B. I enjoyed the rhythm, the ease of connection between mind and breathe from these familiar motions.
We moved to the floor, eventually into pigeon pose, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana.
I was not blessed with great flexibility. I was never able to do the splits, even in my younger days. Going into a deep, fully open pigeon pose was a someday pose. As I positioned my left leg in front of me and settled the right leg behind me, something felt different. I settled into the pose, lay my face on the mat and let go. Suddenly, I felt tears roll down my cheeks. I was stunned. I didn’t bother to wipe them away as the salty warmness touched my lips. We switched to the other side. The tears came out even more as I allowed the pose to stretch my left hip muscles. I started to sniffle. The release of holding onto something came even more deeply on this side.
Class moved into the final poses leading up to savasana. Lying on my back in the dark, the music during final savasana swelled inside me and seemed to ring throughout every fiber. More tears flowed. I felt light, relieved of unspoken thoughts and unexpressed feelings. I had never felt this much welled up emotion pouring out in my 13 years of practicing yoga. Was it because the past year of life events were finally being pushed out in the universe?
I asked Jeri about my crying after class ended. She felt honored that I was telling her. She explained that scar tissue, from emotional and physical trauma, builds up and the hips hold a lot of that emotion. Emotions I thought I dealt with had only moved to a deeper part of me, tucked and stowed away until that night: the fear from my mom’s breast cancer coming back after 20 year remission, the roller coaster of buying a house, the anxiety of my own breast cancer scare, the agony from the decline and end of a six-year relationship with an alcoholic, bipolar ex-boyfriend.
I thought I had successfully maneuvered through these moments of my life, scarred but wiser. Being a willing, active participant in life guarantees scars. People leave scars. The fault with my scars was I thought they could fade away. These scars went along with my pushing them away. That night in the sacred space, I felt a calming peace. The female energy from my left side, the Shakti, was finally opened up to flow. I accepted and acknowledged those emotions were a part of me and let it go in my tears.