“You’re only one yoga class away from a good mood!”

Maybe it’s just me, but every time I see that phrase on social media, I cringe a little. Yes, yoga has an impressive number of benefits for your body and mind and you may feel absolutely fabulous after a deep practice. But, you also may not. I’m here to tell you that if your yoga practice makes you feel things other than happiness, you are not doing it wrong.

What I can promise is that if you practice moving your body with deep awareness and connection to your breath, you will definitely feel more. If you practice holding space for how you show up from day to day without judgement, you may start to gain clarity on exactly what you are feeling. You may have more compassion for yourself as a human being. Yoga does not create any feelings. It can’t make you feel good and it can’t make you feel bad, but it can help you to notice your patterns and uncover and untangle jumbled up feelings.

And, if from truly witnessing your emotions up close you can create a little bit of distance from them and see them as something that moves through you and not something that defines you as a being, then those strong emotions might just hold a little less charge.

If you can witness grief, pain, loss, fear, anger, anxiety, and yes, even joy, as a flow of energy and a reaction to some stimulus, then you may feel less like they could swallow you up.

You may feel more calm when old patterns that don’t serve you have been identified and released.

And at the same time sometimes life just is painful, hard, or sad and there is nothing wrong with having those feelings.

To always be striving to replace difficult feelings with “Happiness” is unrealistic and not necessarily beneficial either.

So, I won’t be promising you a good mood at the end of your yoga practices anytime soon. But I will promise you that over time, with dedication, and patience, movements of clarity, peace, and true presence to what is real will show up more and more often. Personally, I find that more valuable than “a good mood.”

Catherine currently teaches at Victory Power Yoga in Clayton, NC. You can find out more about her practice and teaching at www.catherinestriegel.com.