The teachings in the yoga practice are profound and each time we show up to our mats we move through the asanas with the opportunity to discover more about ourselves through our awareness of the breath and the movement of our bodies. Apart from the alignment cues, it is highly likely that at least once during the practice we may hear our yoga teacher talk about letting go. So what does letting go mean?
To begin with the need to let go is only helpful if there are aspects of our yoga practice and areas in our lives where holding on is quite literally restricting us from experiencing the essence of yoga on the mat and life’s infinite possibilities. When we become stuck within our holding patterns through limiting self beliefs, we lack energy, become unhappy and unavailable to the flow of life.
In the physical practice of yoga, letting go is about experiencing the asana with ease through the effort and by being fully receptive and focused each time we show up to our mats.
It is about releasing any expectations we may have about our practice and relaxing into the poses to experience equanimity. But letting go is a principle that goes beyond our mats.
I used to think that letting go was about giving up but on the contrary, it is about self- acceptance, a willingness to reveal vulnerabilities through strength of purpose, and courage, to create new experiences in our lives.
It is not irresponsible.
And it is not about positive thinking that sugar coats reality.
And it is not always visible to others.
It is about being flexible and letting go of what we think ‘should be’.
To see that ‘there is nothing right or wrong except that ‘our thinking makes it so’.
It requires a clear unambiguous commitment to conduct our lives through listening to the echoes from our heart to live authentically in the realm of openness and possibility.
By contrast, holding on is comfortable and is embedded in fear that allows us to live in the past with what we know even if that knowing is negative or secure nostalgia.
Holding on is about an attachment to our ‘story’, the story that has become our identity and defines who we are.
Holding on leaves us in a place of stagnation preventing us from fulfillment in our hearts and minds.
But letting go is potent with energy and empowerment.
Growth or the evolution of the self is only possible when we let go of those things that limit our potential to live vibrantly from the heart.
Holding on is palliative as we live in dreams with hope into the future.
But letting go is charged with immediacy as we live with passion in the present.
And so no present moment is dismissed as boring, incomplete, unsatisfactory, uncomfortable or frightening. On the contrary it becomes dynamic and charged with potential and enchantment.
Letting go gives us the opportunity to be creative in our engagement and response to each of life’s precious moments. The yoga practice shows us the way and allows us the opportunity to observe the self and discover what it is that we may be holding onto in our lives.
To let go is liberation from the confines of the mind and freedom – it may just be easier to do than we imagine.