In the third grade I saw ‘Free to Be You and Me‘.
I don’t remember if it was planned or if some weather induced incident prompted the rolling in of the projector, but we gathered in the atrium.
Do you remember that feeling? The excitement of the projector? Freedom from some schoolwork and the lights turned off during the school day? It was an adventure.
Have you had the pleasure of seeing FtbYM? Have your kids seen it?
It turned 40 last year. Marlo Thomas and friends tackle gender indentity, racsism, sexism and class with songs, animation, live action and of all things- puppets.
FtbYM was a landmark album and film by the Ms. Foundation for Women that introduced a generation of parents and kids to a new world order that was not just tolerant, but celebrated difference.
But…the greatest part of the movie for me is Rosey Grier singing ‘It’s Alright to Cry’.
6’5 burly, intimidating Rosey Grier tells us that it’s alright to cry. He croons:
It might make you feel better.
It’s alright to feel things,
though feelings may be strange.
And they change and change and change.
To this day I can’t help but hum the song in my head when I see tears or cry myself. (Imagine, I’m hysterical and still somewhere in my head singing- I accept my weirdness and way my freak flag proudly)
In many ways it was yoga.
Have you every cried on your mat?
I have. I remember once after a particularly bad break-up I wandered to a local studio. I needed to cleanse and didn’t realize at the time that I was in the midst of huge emotion changes. Isn’t that always the way? We don’t recognize change when it’s happening.
When I lifted up to Ustrasana (Camel Pose) a dam burst. Tears streamed down my face. Whoops- who turned on the faucet? I sucked it up and let it out at home.
Knowing what I know now I would have went with it. Pushing it back down wouldn’t have been an option. This actually makes things worse. When you can let a feeling come up and just be, it’s easy to let it change and change and change (Thanks Rosey!)
Releasing emotions is one of the amazing benefits of yoga. In a world that rewards stuffing down feelings, letting go and showing emotion in class at first made me very vulnerable. I got past my urges to ‘just do the poses’. My flow changes with my emotions and sometimes it changes in spite of my emotions. Now when things come up on my mat that make me say, ‘Hmm, I didn’t even know I was thinking about that.’ I can let it go and deal with it or release it if it isn’t serving me.
Turns out when you don’t resist most things aren’t a big deal.
Imagine that shit.
As a teacher I keep an eye out for this, especially with new students. Tears can come up and it’s crucial that when I see it- I gently leave a tissue and check in with a look or hand on the shoulder to make sure everything is okay. Doing this discreetly is obvious, but for the sake of clarity I’ll mention it anyway. I want to create a safe space.
The point is, it’s alright to cry.
Yoga is my grown up version of Free to Be You and Me.
This is yoga. And it’s free to be whatever I need it to be. For me.