Being With Feelings

I really don’t like “feelings”. And, what I mean by “feelings” is the hard unpleasant emotional sensations that just don’t feel great. Ugh!!! The ones like sadness, loss, anger, fear…you know, the ones we like to avoid. Feelings like these can be overwhelming. I can cope with physical pain way better than emotional pain. But, during one’s yoga practice, emotions can surface and, just like our physical asana practice, sometimes we are ready for the next level and sometimes we are not.

The interesting balance is finding a respectful honoring of where you are at both physically and emotionally so that we don’t do damage by pressing too far. So, when a physical sensation of pain arises, we can look at it and determine whether ahisma (non-violence) dictates that we back off or if we are safe to lean into it and notice the sensations and release tension. The same can be true for emotional pain. Sometimes we are just not ready to Be With emotional pain that arises during practice. So, we can back off, take a deep breath and recover. Other times we might sit with the pain for a bit, observe it and maybe even lean into it to explore what it is and if we can release it (just like the physical tensions).

I teach Gentle versions of Yoga and am always encouraging folks to lean gently into their practice. Going too deep before the body is ready can cause injuries. On the other side of that is the risk of never going deep and always backing off from unpleasant sensations. Hatha yoga is, in part, about balance. Sun/Moon. Yin/Yang. Notice if you back off and never lean in. Notice if you tend to force vs. allow. Allow the poses to deepen, allow the emotions to surface by Being With them.

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