Public crying… for some it’s no big deal.
It’s the bane of my very existence.
Here’s the story.
I hate crying.
I know it’s a natural response to frustration and hurt and a myriad of other emotions, but it still sucks. As a kid, crying wasn’t welcome in our house. I grew up with the feeling that it somehow made you seem weak if you showed your hand.
This is not to say I was a stiff upper lip kind of kid, not by any means. I cried at the drop of the hat, but I never felt good about my crying.
I think this may have scarred me, but there it is.
Since becoming a grown up I have tried like hell to keep my tears to myself. Or at least to my closest friends, but sometimes they come out anyway. Even when I don’t want them to.
My most recent display of public crying was this past Friday during our first pose of the day — Baddha Konasana– soles of the feet together, knees splayed out like a butterfly – big hip opener. We were asked to lean our torso over the bent knees and rest.
The way my eyes filled as soon as my knees fell open you would have thought they were a faucet connected to my tear ducts.
Lift the knee up, tears slow down.
Knee down, tears fall.
Much to my chagrin they didn’t stop when I brought my knees up, only slowed a bit. It was almost comical at no matter how hard I tried to keep those tears from falling, they just rained down on my feet and mat.
My inner dialogue?
WHY AM I CRYING?
What is this about?
Is something hurting?
Am I sick?
Am I too tired?
Am I losing my marbles?
Why won’t they stop?
Good god, does anyone notice?
Oh goodie, there goes my nose. It’s like the power sprayer on the nozzle.
Could I be any father away from the box of tissue or a towel!?!
I guess I’ll have to tip toe to the back and try to regain my composure…
During our last session of teacher training we spent some time talking about crying in yoga class and what if anything teachers should do. You may be asking yourself why this is important enough of an issue to devote any time to during a teacher training, but crying in yoga happens a lot.
If you spend enough time on the mat you may find yourself either trying to hold back tears or trying not to slip on the ones that got out despite your best efforts. Or you may just witness someone else lose control of their tear ducts and be happy it isn’t you.
After class we were asked to write what we would do if a student in one of our classes was overwhelmed by emotion that resulted in crying. I googled the topic to see what the “experts” had to say. I was surprised by my findings. There are articles written about it and many blog posts on the subject.
Theories abound about why people experience deep outpouring of emotions during yoga: long ago trauma stored in the nooks and crannies of the body, tension release, quieting of the mind, taking care of oneself, and the list goes on and on.
The research was in vain because I already knew what I would do based on my own experience as an accidental crier.
LEAVE THEM ALONE.
Of course, I love that my teacher quietly checked in with me with a “Anything I can do?” and then left me alone. For me this crying business is hard enough without anyone calling attention to it. A brief check in, a tissue and that’s all I need and/or want.
It’s my hope that by sharing this with people they will understand that crying in yoga happens to a lot of people and that it is a completely natural response to this kind of deep body work. It is also my hope that when this kind of emotion is brought up for someone in one of my classes I will provide them the same level of comfort and privacy offered to me.