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faq: what do I do with all my feelings?

Short answer: Enjoy them! Really feeling your feelings is the best reminder of how beautifully intense life can be.




Long Answer: We’ve all been in pigeon pose, or a deep backbend. and suddenly wanted to cry (am I right?). Undoing physical tensions and blockages, some of which have been in place for years and decades, will often manifest as a sense of relief, a wash of freedom, or an intense emotion. Sometimes you’ll have memories float up, and sometimes the feelings will be inexplicable. No worries— there are two ways to go forward.

1. Suppression


You can re-bottle your feelings! Push them down and away, pretend they don’t exist, ignore them, tell yourself you’ll deal with it later, or (my favorite) intellectualize and then forget about them.

This method is the quickest, least effective fix. The results is that we end up facing the same tensions and feelings again and again, or avoiding certain parts of the body, certain postures, so that we can more effectively avoid the feelings within us.

Unfortunately, avoiding the tensions don’t release them. Until we process and release the emotions, we carry them around in our body, like literal emotional baggage. Sometimes they (the emotional pattern as well as the physical pattern) manifest as our personality, and part of the difficulty of releasing the old tensions is that we have unconsciously taken them on as our identity.



2. Expression


This requires attention as well as courage! When we are willing to change our mind (less stress, more space for love and positivity), and our body (stronger, leaner, looser) then we also need to recognize when and how to allow the negativity and old patterns to flow out of the body-mind. Like learning techniques for exhale, we can learn techniques for emotional expression.

Take note

You can keep a dedicated notebook near your yoga mat. I began this practice years ago and have found such empowerment as well as catharsis in writing what comes up: the good, the bad, the ugly, and sometimes the to-do lists :)

Here are some ideas to structure your notes.

Have columns or sections dedicated to: your start state, and what brought you to the mat.

Use a daily planner, and let yourself write anything you like after savasana.

Keep a “to do” notepad for mid-practice remembrances and creative ideas. But stay focused: Jot your notes quickly and do the actual tasks after you finish practice!

Artistry

Especially in the summer time, when the natural world is expressing itself in color, I often have feelings best expressed in color. Painting, color pencil, and pastels are intuitive ways to pull colors from your body-mind into paper. Photography and pencil sketching are also options. Choose what feels interesting/natural to you, without any concern for your technique or whether the result is “good”. The point has nothing to do with the result of your expression; just the act of expression in itself.

Space

When we feel changes in our inner life, it is a great time to make changes in our external life (and vice versa). Play with space to make new space. Rearrange your furniture, your closets, your cabinets. Repot and rotate your plants. Go for a long walk somewhere with a wide open sky— connect to the big space that surrounds our little home spaces.

Voice

Sing. Chat with a friend. Speak aloud to your reflection, or to your plants as you water them. Let your voice be an expression of love and gratitude for what you no longer have to keep on or in you.

Movement

I know, we’ve come full circle. You’ve been going deep in your yoga practice, you have lots of feelings, and sometimes the best way to work through them is to just keep going. Trust the process, trust your body, and trust that clarity is waiting within you.




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