Every yoga student cried today…for the first time, I actually cried during a yoga class…
I assume you are internally rolling your eyes, “really Jen, you CRIED?”. Yes, I cried. And I received confirmation that at least 8 others did in class as well.
I would like to begin this in depth explanation of crying by opening with a commonly used phrase in the yoga world, “the hard and the soft”. The main principle behind this phrase is like Yin and Yang (how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, ex: a shadow cannot exist without light). Today’s yoga class was all about accepting the hard and the soft, mentally and physically, pushing yourself to your limits while allowing yourself to be sensitive and exposed.
Our amazing guest instructor, Jason Hulshof (who was my current teachers, teacher) guided us through one of my most impactful practices to date. He began the class by having us focus in on ourselves, with phrases like “allow yourself to feel any emotions that may arise”. So, already I am allowing myself to feel vulnerable, as that has been my most recent state of sensitivity. Next he starts pushing us to our limits for the next 60 minutes, and when I say limits I mean I have sweat penetrating my eyes causing temporary blindness and when I turn my head I go deaf from perspiration trickling into my ear drums (I mean REALLY, like, is that even possible?!).
Jason all the while through class telling us that “lead must first be heated to turn into gold”, “pain is necessary to become stronger”, “it takes more strength to allow yourself to show vulnerability” or “life is all about waves, you experience the highs and the lows, they are ever changing, accept your current moment, don’t run away from it, it takes experiencing sorrow to grow”...
So I am to the point of near exhaustion, in one of our final postures, locust pose, when Jason tells us to grab the hand of the person next to us. Luckily it was my fellow yogi student Jawn, whom started squeezing my hand so tight for support and I his, relying on one another to stay up. We all want to quit, we all want to just lay our body back down on the mat and just give up. But Jason doesn’t let us, the person next to us won’t let us. If one person goes down we all go down. Then Jason bellows out, “DON’T GIVE UP, WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. DO YOU FEEL THAT HAND OF THE PERSON NEXT TO YOU, YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS LIFE, WE ARE ALL IN THIS SHIT TOGETHER!!” and for some unexplainable reason it hit home with me, it opened up the floodgates of that vulnerable feeling I had been cautiously "trying" to be aware of, lightly treding around the feeling, just dipping my toe in the water without fully jumping in. But here it was, raging in full force, I began to feel. I mean really feel, like smack you across the face feel.
Thankfully by the time the tears started to well up and spill over my eyelids we were instructed to sit back into childs pose, where we were face down in the mat, breathing deeply to bring the heart rate down. When out of nowhere Jason just lays his hand on my back and says to the whole class “accept your pain, bring awareness to your emotions and allow that sorrow to soften around the edges”. UGH, like I didn’t already FEEL emotional enough. So I allowed myself to soften as best I could. For my first time crying in class I was a bit timid about it, trying to hide it, but I could hear others around me doing it, so I just let it happen (#yolo). I opened up and sunk down even deeper into the muck of my vulnerability.
Eventually I did manage to bring myself back together after Savasana (final resting pose) and when rose back up I did feel pretty damn liberated. I turned to look over at my friends next to me, seeing the tears in their eyes, when I start to smile and couldn't help but say, “What the fuck was that shit?!”. We began to just laugh, and then cried some more. It was the most strange, awesome sensation.
It's like my friend Toni said to me before class, “I feel like one huge beating heart, I feel everything lately!”. That statement could’t be more true. We are all starting to feel more. Each day in practice we are taught to open up, to grow, to accept, to sense, to feel.
Whoah, yeah, I am starting to feel alright. The good, the bad, the highs, the lows. Now it all comes down to taking into account our current yogi training of allowing these sensations to arise without letting them control us. To learn to ride the waves of life, to accept the current moment and continue moving forward. That’s the hard part, to move past it, to let it go of the pain and suffering, but thats why they call it, yoga, practice.
I hope this doesn’t scare you away from beginning your own yoga practice if you haven’t already. But I did find some awesome quotes I will end the night with to help encourage you to not be afraid, of being afraid, to start experiencing sensations. We only live this life once, why not experience as much as we can from it.
In the mean time, send me good vibes! I have to teach a full hour of Ashtanga primary short series 1 on Sunday to a fellow student, so that means hours of study time for me from now until then, I have a lot of memorizing to do!
I’ll be sending out good vibes to you all as well, peace be with you, namaste! :D