In spending time developing your yoga and meditation practice, there have most likely been a number of experiences and reactions that you have encountered. Some of these reactions are more on the pleasant side and can bring you into the center of enlightenment. Others, however, can catch you off guard. One reaction in particular seems to do just that—tears during class—and it can leave you more confused than contented.
With yoga, especially when practiced in a quieter space and with a spiritual intention, you are working on many aspects of the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. In the peace and silence of a trusted space, when you are devoting time to your higher self, a few things can happen. One is that despite your best abilities to tame your mind, issues at the forefront of discomfort in your life can rear their heads. Within this stillness, it can be difficult to get away from the thoughts and that can make it harder to shift your focus from them or keep you from blaming yourself for "thinking." A second occurrence is more closely related to the yoga work itself, be it posture, breath, or mantra. Based on the focus of the asana, it may ring the doorbell of an old memory, pain, or loss, which can trigger the tears.
As awkward as it might feel for you to begin sniffling in class, just go with it. Most likely, people will either understand, or will not know how to respond and therefore will not react (or even ignore you). Either way, you will have space to get through whatever is happening. Without trying to delve deeper into the tears that are coming on, just go with the flow. You have hit a nerve of some topic and it is releasing. Allow the tears to be a purging from the body of the sadness related to your concern. Your mind and body are ready to let this go, so appease them. And, whatever you do, do not let this detract you from coming back to your practice.
There is so much pressure in these lives we live to keep our emotions in check and keep things cool that crying has seemed to develop a negative association. A sneeze, or a cough, fall into pretty much the same category in terms of physical reactions and we seem to do those without much self-imposed judgment. Tears are simply a physical reaction to emotional or physical injury, or occasionally the vapors of a chopped onion, yet we are hard on ourselves when they show up. Aren’t we in yoga class to learn to be kind to ourselves? If so, then why do we make it so difficult to do just that?