I have often come away from a yoga practice feeling calm. I have occasionally come away from a yoga practice feeling frustrated. But last week was the first time I can recall coming away from my practice feeling sad.
I was doing a lovely hip-focused yoga practice one evening and I felt a little shift in the muscles in my hip/lower back. It was a new sensation and I felt like I had ‘unlocked’ something important.
But then a wave of sadness hit me.
It wasn’t overwhelming and, strangely, it wasn’t even particularly upsetting. It was kind of like the feeling you get when you remember something that made you sad a long time ago. You aren’t sad now, per se, but you are sad for your past self and looking at them with empathy.
I paused the video and breathed through the feeling, letting it wash over me and trying not to do my usual ‘search for the origin of this feeling and possibly make it worse’ routine. The feeling subsided and I went on with the practice.
Then another wave hit me. The same kind of ‘sadness about a distant event’ feeling.
I’ve had this sort of thing happen before when I wasn’t on the mat, of course. I’ve suddenly remembered something sad or frustrating or upsetting and then temporarily re-lived the feeling but usually something has prompted me to remember it.
This time, the feeling wasn’t related to any specific past event, and there was no memory or baggage attached to it, it was just there.
It didn’t make me cry, not even those sort of leaky tears that don’t involve sobbing. It was just a quiet sort of internal, ambient, soft sadness.
It kept happening as I moved through the video and it hung around like a chill after I was finished.
If I hadn’t heard about this happening to people during yoga (and massage), I probably would have spent a lot of time poking around in my memories to figure out what I was sad about and I definitely would have spent a lot more time feeling down.
Instead, I was able to identify what was going on, finish my yoga practice, get myself a cup of tea and do comforting and reassuring things for the rest of the evening before heading to bed a little early.
And it hasn’t happened again since even though all of my practices last week were hip-focused.
Have you had an emotion pop up for you out of nowhere when doing yoga or another movement practice?
Was it just a vague emotion like mine or was it connected to something specific?
To be clear, I’m definitely not asking you to revisit trauma or to bare your soul and I certainly don’t need details (unless it would help you to share them for some reason) I’m just interested to know how this experience has played out for other people.
And, of course, I hope that if or when you find yourself awash in emotion on the mat, you can find the comfort you need in that moment.