Emotions and Yoga Asana

shutterstock_152924762I grew up in a wonderful family where I felt very loved. However, we weren’t really huge emotional expressers. I think this is just kind of the way it was in our generation. As we grew and got older that changed and it became less embarrassing to say, “I love you” or to give a big hug.

However, I still hold my emotions close. I think there are two reasons. First, it is really hard to be vulnerable (read about my dance with that one here!). If others know how I feel, then that leaves me wide open. Secondly, I am a positive person and I try very hard to look for the good in things. But maybe sometimes it is just better to feel what really is, even if it is negative, and then let it go.

One definition of emotion is “energy in motion”. This sounds less scary. The word emotion comes from the Latin “emotere” which means to move out. And emotions, or energy vibrations that aren’t allowed to move out get stuck inside of us.

I have this likened to a ball. With just the right amount of air, that ball will bounce perfectly. Add a bit more and it will still bounce but maybe not as well or get out of control. Add too much air, and it will explode.

As you take in the energy of emotions, you also need to express or release it in order to regain and maintain balance. If you repress it and force the energy to remain stagnant inside, your energy field will become deformed. The effects may be felt in your body as knots, tension, psychological disturbance and illness.

Have you ever noticed the effects that yoga has on your emotions? What an amazing tool! It is like our pose practice creates a great sense of spaciousness that allows for healing and release to take place.

During yoga practice, emotions may surface. There are positive ones, such as joy, contentment and patience. These ones are easy to welcome as they feel good and we want to surrender to them.

Of course the flipside also occurs and your yoga practice may bring up negative emotions such as fear, frustration or sadness. Crying in yoga class? This can really take you by surprise – it sure did me the first time it happened. (I will have to tell you about my love/hate relationship with camel pose sometime…)

However, if we can accept and release these emotions, let them move through, then this can bring about a sense of renewal. Give yourself space to feel what you’re feeling. Instead of trying to hold them back, consider that the emotions came about for a reason. Stay mindful and give yourself the latitude to feel. Even embrace the discomfort.

It is quite amazing how yoga postures influence our emotional state. For example, backbends are expansive and heart opening so tend to lift the spirits and elevate your mood. However, they can also leave you feeling vulnerable which may bring up feelings of fear (I’m talking to you camel pose!) Forward folds tend to be calming and balancing and usually create a sense of harmony and inward focus.


I recently came across a yoga practice called “Woodchopper.” Despite its funny name (kind of makes me think of a horror movie…) it really does help release anger and frustration. Here’s how it goes:

  • Stand with your feet a bit wider than your hips, knees slightly bent.
  • Interlace your fingers. Inhale and lift your (imaginary) axe above your head.
  • Exhale and swing forward bending your knees, hands chopping the imaginary wood between your legs. Forcefully say the word “Ha.”
  • Repeat several times.


Does your yoga practice help you feel your emotions?  Please share your story, I always love hearing from you.

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