The first time I cried in yoga, I was confused AF. My instructor had us in a hip-opening pose, was gently walking us through it, and before I knew it, the tears were streaming quickly down my face. Now, years later as a yoga instructor myself, it's not uncommon to see some students tear up in class during moments of emotional release.
While you may not expect it to happen, certain yoga poses have the power to make you cry. But it's totally normal, and it can even feel relieving and therapeutic.
Hip-opening poses are most likely to bring on a flood of emotions because of all the tightness and tension you naturally store in your hips.
All of that tension builds up over time, trapping negativity and old feelings along with it. And when you finally release it, your emotions bubble to the surface, too.
Whether you simply want fair warning that certain poses will turn on the waterworks, or if you're actively looking for a good cry (sometimes, you just need it), here are five hip-opening poses to practice when you feel that hip tension building up.
1. Pigeon Pose (Pada Rajakapotasana)
Pigeon pose is the hip-opener most commonly known to make people cry.
This intense pose can be a bit uncomfortable at first, but it's key to distinguish between hip tightness and actual pain -- be sure to listen to natural cues from your body.
As you hold the pose, make sure there isn't any tension in your neck or jaw, isolating the stretch to your hip and glutes.
Maintain a steady breath, and observe your emotions without judgment.
2. Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
As its name suggests, this gentle and restorative pose will make you feel like a child again.
Happy baby will allow you to release any negativity you've been holding onto, and may even invite a newfound playful nature into your practice.
3. Low Yogi Squat (Malasana)
Malasana is incredibly empowering and provides an amazing stretch for your hips and lower back.
Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and if you'd like to dig deeper into your emotions, press your palms to your heart, using your elbows to gently guide your legs outward.
This will intensify the experience, and it may even trigger a tear drop or two.
4. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
Gomukhasana is essentially the queen of hip-openers, and should only be practiced if you're thoroughly warmed up (translation: save this bad boy for the end of your flow).
No matter where your body allows you to be in this asana, simply focus on being open and present.
Let your feelings bubble to the surface, allowing anything that doesn't serve you to drift away and be left behind.
5. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
This pose is the ultimate representation of power and emotional renewal.
As your yoga practice evolves, you'll see this seemingly simple pose evolve with it, and realize this is kind of like a mirror for the growth you experience as you conquer emotional hardships in life.
Eventually, your hips will become more open and free, and you might just feel that subtle, surprising tear of release roll down your cheek.