When I first started teaching yoga I invited a close relative to practice with me. She never came back.

Years later when I asked her why, she told me:

“It made me think too much.”

I interpreted that as: “I’ve been triggered, I feel uncomfortable, and I’m not ready to revisit that wound.”

The opportunity of experiencing EMOTION through the body

This is not uncommon in a yoga practice. Yoga asana (poses) take our bodies into unfamiliar shapes that we wouldn’t encounter in our daily lives. We are beginning to understand that parts of the body are linked to certain emotions and memories, and so it makes sense that certain poses can trigger an emotional response.

For example, hip opening exercises can often TRIGGERS. Why? It is believed that unexpressed emotions are held in that area of the body.

The beautiful part about experiencing emotions in this way is that we don’t necessarily need to revisit the traumatic or painful event.

Most times my students will have tears but they will say they don’t know why they’re crying. I love this because the wisdom of the body releases what’s being stored without you needing to go through the experience again.

Child’s Pose was my own nemesis

In 2021 my nemesis was Child’s Pose. Yip, you read right.

That gentle, relaxing, healing and nourishing pose that everyone loves. Every single time I bent down into this pose I felt angry, frustrated, and irritable. I couldn’t stay there for very long before I had to come up, feeling annoyed and did I mention it… ANGRY.

I couldn’t understand why this gentle pose was triggering me and I still don’t have an answer. All I know is that there was anger in me last year that needed a safe way to be released and it found its way out in Child’s Pose.

What to do if you feel triggered in a yoga pose

Whenever I feel triggered in a pose I check in with myself.

Firstly, is there physical pain?

If there is physical pain I know to stop immediately.

Secondly, are there uncomfortable emotions?

If there are, I become curious about what I’m feeling: I feel anger. I didn’t know it was there. I wonder why this anger is in me? Does it need anything from me right now?

Finally, I stay with it.

But only for as long as I feel safe to do so. If it is inviting anxiety or fear or panic I immediately come out of the pose.

Discomfort is GOOD. As we practice becoming comfortable with discomfort on the mat, it makes the discomfort we find outside of the studio that much easier to manage.

Next time you feel triggered in a pose, invite curiosity and acceptance onto the mat with you, and see where it takes you.

If you are interested in starting a yoga practice, contact us to inquire about group classes, or click here to find out more about one-on-one yoga therapy with Denise Sohandev.