You’re on your mat flowing through your sun salutations, crushing chaturangas, and feeling blissed out by all the awesome vibes. But then, as your workout winds down, you move into a pigeon pose and find yourself silently sobbing into your yoga block. Between sniffles you think, Umm, WTF just happened?
Sound familiar? Don’t worry: “You’re hardly the first person who’s cried in class,” says yoga instructor Leslie Lewis. She’s seen this scenario unfold on plenty of mats—and passed out enough tissues—to make her a firm believer in the power of hip openers as an emotional release. (“I’ve had private clients that were very stressed out because of work go into [one] and just start losing it,” she says.)
There’s a pose in particular the yogi believes tends to be a real tearjerker for most people, including herself: fire log. (She discovered the ability of this ankle-to-knee asana to conjure a good cry sesh during a nine-month period when her dog died, a grandparent died, she went through a tough breakup, and her mom got very sick—so yeah, some seriously heavy stuff.)
“Your hips are a place in the body where you store a lot of emotions and stress.”
So what’s behind the waist hinge-tear duct connection? “Your hips are a place in the body where you store a lot of emotions and stress,” Lewis says. “[They] fall in line with your second chakra, which is connected to emotions. Therefore, when you hit that area of your body, you stimulate that chakra and help open it, which can let go of emotions.”
If that’s a little too woo-woo for you, science backs it up as well. Women tend to carry emotional tension in their uterus. When you release it, don’t be surprised if you shed a few tears as well. And that’s a good thing, according to Lewis.
“I truly find so much solace in releasing these [feelings] in a very healthy, cleansing way through my yoga,” she says. “And I think it’s nothing but beneficial. That’s why people feel so lovely when they leave a yoga class where they do a bunch of hip openers at the end—because they release so much junk and walk out feeling lighter in every sense.”
Fire log is the move the instructor says is most likely to induce a major emotional release—especially if you’re extremely stressed or going through a hard time. But even if you’re feeling good and decided to give it a try, it might not be a bad idea to leave a box of tissues next to your mat, just in case.
Scroll down to see Lewis demonstrate how to execute a fire log asana—AKA the pose that’ll give you all the feels.
Fire Log (AKA ankle-to-knee pose)
Because this pose offers such a deep, opening stretch, it’s best done at the end of class. On your own, Lewis suggests taking the pose after a warmup, so your muscles have time to relax.
1. Begin in downward dog.
2. Then, float your right leg up behind you, and flow through to pigeon pose. (You can fold forward and hold for one minute for a double dose of emotional release).
4. Swing your left leg around, stacking your left ankle on top of your right knee (like two logs on a fire)—ideally, both shins will be parallel to the top of your mat. (If you need to modify—which Lewis says most people do—you can slide your feet apart, making the pose ankle-to-calf. You can also put a block under your top knee to support it and help your hip release.)
5. Fold forward, placing your forehead on either your mat or a yoga block, if that’s comfortable for you. Then, repeat on the other side.