How do you feel after yoga? This is a great question that many people ask when they are interested in trying yoga! Of course, we cannot fully answer this from a “you” perspective. Each person feels differently after yoga and even has a different feeling after every class. Only you can discover how yoga makes you feel, but we can investigate how other people feel and use science and ancient philosophy to help us describe and explain the most common feelings.
How Does Yoga Make People Feel?
I have asked this question over and over again on social media and in my classes. Everyone has a different answer! Answers such as buzzed, energized, balanced, grounded, calm, grateful, refreshed, and connected and aligned with the source and the universe. Also, yoga tends to be a home for some people, knowing that they are right where they are supposed to be. Some people even feel hungry, tired, drained, or exhausted. How you feel after yoga varies from person to person and even can change each time. How we feel depends on our emotions that day, how our body feels, and the practice that we chose to do.
Feel Your Feelings
Yoga philosophy teaches us many lessons during the practice. It forces us to feel our “feelings” which is often why people come to their mat for an emotional release, to let go of something that is no longer serving them. Yoga allows us to hold space without minimizing our feelings or the feelings of the people around us. This is why there is such a variable in how people feel after class. In my personal experience I have seen students break out in tears or laugh after class, depending on what emotions are present that day. If we come to class feeling sad or depressed, yoga might let us feel those emotions in a safe space, teaching us to breathe into the emotion without changing it or blocking it, which in turn allows us to be free of the emotion. It allows us to push into the sharp edges of pleasure and pain and know that we are safe. That pushing into these emotions will not kill us and it allows us to let go of fear and insecurities. Yoga gives us a tool to better deal with our emotions and life in general.
The Yoga High
Many people describe their after class experience as a “yoga high” or “buzz” after class. They feel the best they have felt all day. “Calm but energized, relaxed yet strong, refreshed with slight pulsations that follows them throughout the day.” The yoga high is almost impossible to put into words. So what is the science and philosophy behind this yoga high? According to science the stretching, movement, and breathing aspect of yoga can really improve our mood and gives us this “yoga high”. In the Science of Yoga, Broad explains that yogis tend to increase their GABA neurotransmitters by over 47 percent. Overall improving their mood and even healing themselves from anxiety and depression. The yoga high seems to be the direct result of increasing the feel good neuro-chemicals and neurotransmitters in our brain, almost like a drug, giving us a natural and safe “buzz”. So even if we can’t put into the words this “yoga high”, we have scientific proof that it exists. Now let’s talk about the philosophy of the yoga high.
Yoga Philosophy: Yoga High
A common way to describe how you feel after yoga is to describe a relaxed, calm mind but energy and strength in our body. The ancient yoga philosophy of the gunas (the three natures) can help describe this feeling. The first one is Tamas. This is relatable to a blood sucking vampire. Vampires are dark, destructive creatures. They suck the life out of their victims. In the same way, Tamas is the life sucking force, leaving us tired, dark, and being destructive to our body and mind, putting us into a depression like state. Rajas is the opposite. Think of this as a dragon. Dragons live in the air, constantly flying from place to place. They are passionate and blow fire around the world. They are active and passionate, almost like an anxiety induced state. Our thoughts are racing, we are unable to settle down. Finally, we have Sattva. The perfect in-between state, the unicorn state. Our mind is calm, but we are still energetic, ready to get through our day. We are one with ourselves and everything around us. We are constructive without being destructive. This state is what a lot of people feel after yoga, the bliss state. Some might even argue that it is our goal in yoga. It is the state where we are challenged, pushing to our edge, and leaning in to the sharp edges without pushing past them. Our goal is to feel this unicorn nature after class, rather than overly tired or having our thoughts race. It is that ‘yoga high” everyone loves.
Even though “how do you feel after yoga” is a loaded question, we can still attempt to answer it. However, you can only discover how you feel after yoga for yourself. I encourage everyone to try yoga and discover this question for yourself. Even with the vast and various answers to this question, one thing is always true, no one ever regrets going to yoga and it always makes their day 10 times better.
About the Author
Alexandra Padilla is a yoga instructor at various studios and gyms around Albuquerque, New Mexico. She owns her own yoga business, SavaYoga where she brings yoga to breweries, senior living facilities, offices and more. She truly believes that yoga is for everyone and, as a result, fights to make yoga affordable and available to everyone.