Letting Go YOGA

I love yoga especially the hot kind.  Creating a healthy sweat while moving my body into better alignment feels great!  It’s also the perfect place to practice letting go.

Let’s do some Letting Go YOGA!

During yoga class or within your home practice, try breathing a letting go breath into an area in your body that’s stiff.  For example, if you’re standing in a forward fold, take your breath into the back of your legs along your back and into your neck.  Find sensations of any kind and breathe into them.  Now here’s the magical part.  With your breath say “yes” to these sensations. Welcome them.

Allowing the sensations of tightness in your body creates non-resistance to what your body is expressing.  It’s in this moment of non-resistance that the body lets go.  Adding the letting go technique to one session of yoga can dramatically improve your flexibility!

“What you resist persists.”  ~ Carl Jung

While we’re on the subject of breathing into your resistance, let’s look at breathing.  The other day I was visiting a friend.  As we talked, I became aware of her breathing.  Actually it was her not-breathing that caught my attention. Unconsciously, she had taken her breath and shelved it to the highest part of her chest.  Her chest was tight and her breath had no choice but to be wispy.

I inquired about this and it turned out she was suffering from some anxiety.

As an intuitive, the breathing patterns of another person are often one of the first things I notice.

Art by Fabienne Montgomery

Create awareness around your breathing.  Do you fill your belly with deep relaxing breaths or is your air only found high in your chest? Louise Hay, a mind body expert, connects the breath with one’s “ability to take in life.”  Consider how you normally breath is a clue to how you experience your life.  Deep belly breathing tells the body it’s safe.    Shallow upper chest breathing happens when we are afraid or anxious. If you have awareness of how you breathe you can take your breath deeper.  In this state the body naturally lets go.

While you’re reading this practice deep belly breathing with a peaceful pause between the in and out breaths.  Relax your tongue in your mouth, relax your jaw and then relax your scalp.  Breathe.  Chose regular times in your day when you will practice breathing deeply.  When you are on the computer, sipping a hot, morning drink, when you’re on the phone or driving.

The other cool thing about breathing deeply is that you’re over half way to meditation.  So let’s make this more meditative.  From a safe place, close your eyes.  Focus on the dark space behind your eyes and as you breathe follow the little sparkles of light.  These are called phosphenes.  Allow the deepening relaxation to unfold naturally.  Telling yourself (or someone else) to relax is not very effective.  If you need help with quieting the mind visit this page.

Back to our YOGA class.  Every time you hold a posture for more than one breath and especially when you’re in a multiple breath asana, practice breathing welcoming breaths into the tension in your body.  Remember, with Letting Go, YOGA stands for YES!

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Letting Go of Guilt and Resentment

If you’re new to this site Start Here to answer the question, “Why Let Go?”

Guilt is one of the most useless emotions.  It’s not motivating like anger or releasing like grief.  The term “wallowing in her guilt” says it all really.  It’s easy to find yourself stuck in guilt as a lifestyle.  Let’s have a look at guilt and create some awareness of this negative emotion in preparation for letting go.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.” ~  Dr David R Hawkins

Guilt is connected to expectations of oneself or someone else.  Expectations invite suffering.  Spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson, speaks of the guilt inducing trap found in what she calls “special love relationships”.  We take a personal connection with another person and label it, to make it special.  Labels such as, mother, spouse, boss, daughter, best friend, and all the titles we place “my” in front of, as in, “my doctor”, “my lover” or “my sister”.

Once we take a relationship and turn it into one we view as special we automatically create expectations.  These expectations are a powerful clue to how guilt operates.  Here’s why.  Consider each special relationship has it’s own list of expectations.  For example, “My brother should be helpful, lend me money, protect me from our father, eat healthier, find a different girlfriend, not be so lazy, get a haircut.”  We of course do this with ourselves using, “I should…”.  Any thought connected to a person and including the word “should” contains the seed of guilt.  It’s a tell-tale set-up.  Beginning with the demand we “should” be a certain way and then, when expectations aren’t met, we feel guilt.

When we demand others “should” be a certain way and they don’t live up to our expectations we feel disappointment which leads to resentment, another form of guilt.  Mind body guru, Louise Hay, will tell you, pent up resentment can lead to cancer manifesting in the body.

Dr Menis Yousry a psychotherapist describes how pent up guilt and resentment forces the “wallower” to find an enemy.   It becomes so painful to carry guilt that we are forced to find someone to blame for all our pain.  In psychoanalytical terms this is called projection.  Each time we blame someone outside of ourselves for our circumstances we avoid taking responsibility.  This is one pathway to victimhood.   Sadly, in our culture it’s socially encouraged to blame others.  So the world is full of victims and villains incapable of experiencing compassion.

Compassion is an antidote to victimhood because it asks us to deeply understand that everyone is doing the best he or she can.  In other words, if they could do better they would.

”The highest realms of thought are impossible to reach without first attaining an understanding of compassion.”  ~ Socrates

However guilt and resentment presents in you it can be released through the letting go method.