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On Being Sad and Crying at Yoga Class

One of my fall exercise classes is a weekly beginner yoga class. It’s really beginner, like we learned how to breath and stand correctly the first week. Last week we got a step by step of how to do downward dog. Then we had a Q&A about downward dog (your heels don’t have to touch the ground). This week we talked about setting intentions for your practice. The instructor said our intention should assume the state of mind we seek, rather than wish for it. For example “I feel content”, rather than “I wish I were content”.

This week has been tough. A community I belong to lost a member who had been a leader for a long time. The passing was peaceful, yet not completely expected. People often die in their nineties, but not all people in their nineties are so energetic and witty. This person will be dearly missed. I feel...sad.

Sadness

As I sat quietly in yoga class, breathing correctly with my eyes closed as instructed, I thought of how I wanted to feel. I wasn’t ready to be happy, I wasn’t even ready to be content. I felt sad, but I hadn’t dealt with the sadness. I had spent the day trying to suppress it. So when I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and considered how I wanted to feel, I was surprised that what I wanted was to just be okay with being sad for awhile. I set an intention to accept being sad.

I’m a pretty content person. I can certainly be melancholy or angsty or angry, but I’m not typically sad. Did you see the movie Inside Out? I identify most closely with the Disgust character, and not just because I adore Mindy Kaling. But I realized this week I’m not super comfortable with just being sad. It doesn’t feel productive and it certainly isn’t comfortable.

However, after an hour of focusing all my energy on just accepting that I feel sad, I came to the same realization that Amy Poehler's Joy charter reaches at the end of Inside Out. Sadness is part of being human, and if we want to experience the good stuff like joy and happiness then sadness is part of the package.

If sadness is majorly impacting your ability to function, or you are experiencing depression, please talk to someone and get the help you need. But the type of sadness I am experiencing this week is normal, and it’s also expected. I worked with someone who I greatly respected, who I learned something from every day, and who was truly one of a kind. The fact that I’m sad means I had a relationship that was important to me. The relationship and the memories bring me joy. And if I want the joy, then I need to be okay feeling sad for a bit.

If you haven’t seen it, Inside Out is a great movie. Also, I totally cried during savasana at yoga class. I guess it’s just that kind of week.

Questions: Have you seen Inside Out? Have you learned important life lessons from a Pixar movie? Do you agree that if we’re going to live life to the fullest, sadness is part of the deal?

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