Why do I cry in yin yoga?

Great question. If you’re new to the practice of yin yoga you may not have experienced this yet, or maybe you have and you’ve been wondering what THAT was all about.

I personally love a good cry in yin yoga. Or any good stretchy pose, really. Or anytime. Crying is a really good way to release energy and stagnation from our beings.

When we cry in yin yoga our mind really likes to try to pinpoint the why of the situation. What’s this emotion? Where has it come from? Is everyone looking at me like I’m some kind of weirdo who can’t hold their emotions in? Side note – if someone IS looking at you thinking that, it’s their problem, not yours.

OK, so WHY do we cry?

When we come into a yin practice, we are giving our nervous system space and time to calm down. We’re giving the deepest tissues in our body a chance to soften and to let go of all the ‘stuff’ that we shove down into our deepest depths when we just don’t have time (or don’t want) to deal with those emotions in our daily lives.

Our tissues (fascia, ligaments, bones, joints etc..) hold our emotions. They hold our past, our pain, our joy, our stress, and the list can go on and on. If we’re not dealing with the stuff that gets locked in our systems it can build and build and build to become chronic pain, anxiety, tension and whatever else happens when we hold stress in our bodies and minds. We’ve all been there.

One of the main aspects of yin yoga is that we hold stretches or compressions in our body usually for several minutes at a time. Now, I want you to imagine a time when it has been inappropriate or bad timing to become angry or sad or deal with some uncomfortable (or ‘socially unacceptable’) emotion. Imagine that emotion was a little elf (or something else equally as cute) that has just packed its bags and created a home in your body, because it’s waiting for you to deal with it. It wants you to deal with it. Let’s say it’s created a home in your hips, but you never came back to it. You didn’t come back and address the little cutie, and now it’s just there. Waiting.

I really hope you’re still with me.

Now, imagine we’re in a yin pose that’s REALLY uncomfortable and challenging in your hips. You’re disrupting the home of that poor little creature and it’s got the idea that maybe it needs to just pop up to the surface to see if this is the time for you to deal with that emotion, to let it out so that it can go and setup a home somewhere else.

This is the really important bit:


Our body knows when we are ready to release. It’ll send these emotions back up to the surface when it knows you’re safe and can deal with the thing that you’d previously pushed down to deal with later.

As I already mentioned, crying is a GREAT way to release energy. It’s a great way to release stagnation and to reset our system. A big, ugly cry is sometimes all you need to let go of a thing and move on.

So, that’s why we cry in yin yoga. Because we’re within an environment that has been safely cultivated for you to release. Crying is not the only way we release in yin yoga, but it can be the most confronting, because like I said, our mind wants to analyse it and untangle it.

My advice is this: next time you’re in a Yin Yoga class and some emotions tugs at you and you feel the tears wanting to pour out of your eyes, let it happen. Try not to shove it down again. Let it come up, let it come out.

If it’s a big ugly cry, go with it.

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