We’ve all been hurt before, and experienced disappointment, heartbreak and loss. Without the knowledge and awareness of how important it is to let this energy move through us, rather than shutting down around it, we begin to let past hurts dictate our future. Physically this shows up with a slouched posture and rounded shoulders as we collapse in on ourselves in an attempt to protect our hearts from future wounds.

From the earliest age most of us have been receiving messages that it is not okay to feel anger, sadness, insecurity, fear, or any other emotion that is deemed negative. For many, this showed up in statements like “stop crying or I’ll give you a reason to cry” or “boys don’t cry”, or even “stop being so emotional.” With these words and others, we were taught that anything other than happiness and joy is not valid, and so begins the guilt and shame that surrounds so many of our lives.

Now, as adults, and after a lifetime of stuffing our emotions deep inside, many of us are brimming over with that which has remained undealt with. Yet it still keeps calling to us, stalking our every move and nipping at our heels, waiting for us to stop long enough to allow all that we have been running from to catch up with us.

This would explain why one of my new yoga clients expressed confusion as to why she couldn’t seem to relax in the evening until she had downed a bottle or more of wine. So resistant was she, like most of us, to being in the moment and risk feeling what rose to the surface that she chose to numb out instead, and this became her nightly ritual, and the only way she could reach a pseudo-relaxed, peaceful state. And she’s not alone in her journey, as is indicated by the fact that there are 14 million alcoholics in America today.

This isn’t the only compulsive behavior we engage in, which is why over 64% of Americans are overweight, or obese. Even with these coping mechanisms, insomnia affects more than half of the U.S. population, with as many as 58% of adults complaining of sleepless nights at least a few times a week.

But perhaps the most alarming statistic of all is that anti-depressant usage is up 800% in the last 10 years. This trend toward disowning what’s coming up inside is affecting us at younger and younger ages, and sadly it is pre-schoolers that are the fastest growing market.

All of this points to the fact that it’s time for us to stop running away from ourselves. True emotional resiliency means giving ourselves enough credit to know we can allow ourselves to feel what we need to feel, confident that once we do, and come out on the other side of it, we will be lighter, and stronger and more at ease than ever before, perhaps since we were children.

This new approach to an old issue appears to be catching on, as so many are now looking to yoga for support in quitting smoking, losing weight, and dealing with issues of insomnia, anxiety and depression.

With so much focus on our physical bodies and intellectual pursuits, there is not enough understanding of or appreciation for the importance of our emotional health. Yet it is the very energy that fuels our lives. For it is only through opening the heart and learning to feel again that we can truly know what it means to be alive.

Author's Bio: 

Erica Boucher is a Yoga Therapist, Hypnotherapist and Life Coach. Her approach is simple: provide a safe space for clients to get in touch with their truth, to feel what they need to feel so they can come out on the other side of it, and support and empower them to make powerful choices in their lives. Erica has developed a yoga teacher training program called EMPATH YOGA, a unique combination of yoga and meditation with elements of hypnosis and empathic listening skills. Here, students will learn how to create and hold the space for others to help them move through stuck emotions, transform limiting beliefs, and heal their bodies. She also coaches people from all over the world in her 12-week personal empowerment program, The Search for the Authentic Self. Visit ericaboucher.com or empathyoga.com for more information.