Usually, as humans, it's in our nature to nurture a fellow soul in distress. We may want to lend a hand, hug, or maybe even a tissue. We want to do something, anything to stem the flow of tears. Why is that? Is this due to empathy? Possibly. It could also be due to discomfort. Our OWN discomfort. According to Stephen Sideroff, PhD, "When someone cries, it shows their vulnerability. I think in general, people are uncomfortable with vulnerability. When the crier exhibits vulnerability, it's shifting the level of intimacy of the environment."
As awkward as it may feel for you, I can almost guarantee that it's 100% more embarrassing for the person who's actively emoting. Nine times out of ten, they would probably rather fly under the radar, go unnoticed, and work through the outburst on his or her own terms.
Sometimes, when someone cries, it's not necessarily an indication of suffering, frustration, pain, or a situation that calls for well-intended fixing. Oftentimes, it's simply a release, an energetic letting go of something that's been held inside for entirely too long. As we open our bodies and clear the clutter from our minds during asana, we also open ourselves to the possibility of bringing lingering samskaras (imprints or latent impressions left on the mind) to the surface.
Instead of being a negative or traumatic event, this may actually be exactly what the practitioner needs to cultivate a deeper sense of self-awareness. Contrary to the course of action that following instinct would generally demand, calling attention to the display in an effort to soothe could be quite detrimental.
To quote Bo Forbes, "Samskara is also defined as a perfecting and polishing, a process of cultivation. Shifting samskara, then, is the ongoing work of chipping away at our negative patterns to illuminate the purity of the soul. Like alchemists in our own transformation, we constantly refine and direct our samskara into healthier designs. Improving our samskara brings us closer to our true nature, which is the goal of yoga."
So, the next time you tear up on your mat, or someone else sobs alongside of you, try allowing yourself to allow it to flow freely. Giving yourself, and others, a safe space to simply BE is truly one of the most gracious stages of growth.