Exercise, or any form of working and moving with your body, is more than just physical. It allows you to breathe, think, and let go. During one of my last acupuncture sessions, I started to cry. Silent tears began to roll down my cheeks and I let them. I was surprised by the amount of emotion I felt, but it was all over in less than 5 minutes. I left feeling great after my session.
This isn't the first time tears were shed after working with my body. I've cried after I've pushed it to its limits, after feeling the wind blow through my hair during a walk or bike ride, and while I've leaned into some of my favorite stretches during yoga, and yes, during acupuncture. Sometimes I expected it. I often use working out as a way to deal with my emotions. If I'm too stressed, worried, or overwhelmed, I hit the floor or get outside.
It's actually not uncommon. I recently read a Time magazine article about why women are now crying at the gym—on purpose. Although the article was mainly about one particular class, I started to connect the dots. Physical release begets emotional release, whether it's because you're just so darn glad your body can now rest after pushing through the pain, or the pride you feel after completing something you didn't think you could do. But it goes beyond that. Our bodies are letting go of toxins through sweat and tears. It's stirring up a chemical cocktail that makes us feel better. Allow it to happen—encourage it to happen.
I used to stifle my tears, but not anymore.
Photo: Paolo Neoz