letting go

  • 5 Ways to Let Go

    releasing expectation

    If there’s one thing yoga has drilled into me time and time again it is this: Release expectation. People and situations will disappoint you. Some individuals will get off on seeing you wounded, flailing, or failing. These people will be strangers, mentors, and sometimes, they will even be those with whom you've deeply entrusted your friendship. It doesn’t matter. In the larger scheme of things, it’s not really about these people. Let them do as they will. Let them think what they wish. If you really know yourself, you have all the tools you need to take these punches and to freakin’ take them with grace. And after you take the heat, all you can do is let it go. Then, you put up a fight for the things in life that truly matter. You do you and you do it well. And you never, EVER let them see you sweat (off the mat, of course).

    Yes, this is easier said than done.

    Yes, this takes practice.

    Yes, this requires you choose to perceive this all as ultimately positive.

    How do you do that? What can you do to rebound from disappointment or pain? What can you do when people dish out these emotional punches or stings? How do you avoid letting your anger intervene? How do you confront the situation with grace? How do you let it go?

    1. Breathe. First and foremost, breathe. Practice pranayama. Breath of Fire is a powerful tool to expel overwhelming thoughts and any underlying anxieties you are feeling.
    2. Consider this a message. The universe, whether you realize it or not, is incredibly intelligent. If you have up to this point led with integrity and done your best to bring positive, clean energy into all of your experiences, the universe is most likely looking out for you here. Maybe this unfortunate event is simply a door closing to open a new one. Instead of mourning this loss, consider the new opportunities that are now awake. What will this situation open up for you?
    3. Control your reaction. This, at the end of the day, is the only thing you can count on: Your reaction in the face of a problem. Choose a reaction that you won’t look back on and regret. Choose the higher path. Choose rationality, calm, and discretion. Choose wisely in the emotions you reveal. Choose to view this “bad” situation as a "good" one in disguise. Choose to dwell in possibility, not negativity.
    4. Concentrate on your most important relationship: The one you have with yourself. This should be your priority. Observe how you are responding in the face of these punches. How are these stimuli influencing you? Watch yourself. Be an observer on your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. All of this will create space between you and whatever is going on. A good way to take this watchfulness approach is to meditate. Meditation reveals all of the garbage. Gradually, it allows you to empty out the mental trash and rid yourself of things that are an incredible waste of your energy and space.
    5. Forgive. Don’t give this person or situation any more power over you than they are worth. Forgiveness is powerful because it releases the toxic energy that you share with this person or situation. Holding onto anger and other feelings and emotions will just add flame to the fire. It gives this person or thing great power over you and your thoughts whether you recognize it or not. Forgive it to free it.

    Letting s**t go is tough, yet it is well within your power. You have the power to allow what will and will not get to you. You have the power to open new doors. You have the power to view bad situations as opportunities. Don’t let the bad and the ugly saturate your experience and detract from all of the good. Because the bad and the ugly happen for a reason. If you can stop obsessing over it and consider it all a blessing in disguise, you will be in a place of security and strength. You will come out on top and that much stronger.

    Let it go. Let it all go.

    ~Tess

  • Practice Tips: Do More of This & Less of That

    yoga at home

    Sometimes yogis, you gotta turn the tables and commit to doing more of one thing and less of another. Inspired by Chris McCombs, I have sequenced together a less-of-this and more-of-that list as it pertains to the yoga practice.

    •  Less theory, more practice. “Yoga is 99% practice, 1% theory.” ~Sri K. Pattabhi Joyce
    • Less perfection, more progress.
    • Less hesitancy, more pushing into your fears.
    • Less attachment to the outcome, more acceptance of the NOW.
    • Less laziness, more taking it to the mat.
    • Less forcing, more flowing.
    • Less stress, more breathing through it.
    • Less thinking, more breathing.
    • Less mulling over thoughts, more mantra.
    • Less mental body, more intuitive body. Bottom-line: Listen to your gut.
    • Less comfort, more change. Don’t get stuck in the trap of security. Live on the edge. Face your fears. Confront challenges. This is where the magic happens! This is really living!
    • Less poker face, more smiles.
    • Less seriousness, more play! It’s simply yoga. Don’t take yourself and the practice so seriously.
    • Less conforming, more doing you! It’s YOUR practice, so do you. Sing your song. Dance your dance.
    • Less clutter, more space. When you de-clutter your life (mentally and physically), you have more space to receive. Toss out the garbage and the unessential.
    • Less comparison, more self-acceptance. Don’t envy the practice of another yogi. By all means, use it as inspiration for your own practice. Don’t, however, get so caught up in wanting your practice to mirror another. This is YOUR practice. Accept it as it is: perfectly imperfect.
    • Less future and less past, more present.
    • Less mental disturbances, more meditation. Meditation is the BEST medication.
    • Less distraction, more drishti. Each pose has a drishti point – a place to direct your gaze. When distractions arise - when your eyes start circling around the room or thoughts start streaming in - remind yourself to direct your focus to that drishti point.
    • Less force, more fluidity. Sometimes when I practice, I imagine myself creating the movements in water. Strength is definitely a huge component of the practice and so is steadiness. The intent is to strike a sweet balance between effort and ease.
    • Less ego, more humility.
    • Less playing it safe, more falling. Falling is a part of this journey. Mistakes are a part of this journey. Scars are a part of this journey. All of this allows you to learn and grow.
    • Less sitting around and thinking about it, more bold action.
    • Less controlling, more letting go.
    • Less catastrophizing, more opportunity-izing. Yes, I made up both of those words. The point is, don’t freak out in the midst of chaos. Consider catastrophes as opportunities in disguise. If you can do this, your life and practice will flow with greater ease.
    • Less wanting, more gratitude.
    • Less “What’s in it for me?,” more “How can I help?” One easy way to help is to breathe not only for yourself, but also for the yogi(s) next to you. If you’re practicing yoga at home solo, breathe for all life surrounding you. Create those elevating vibes!
    • Less excuses for not hitting the mat, more yoga at home or on the go with YogaVibes!

    In your practice, what can you minimize? What can you amplify?

    ~Tess

  • 25 Ways to Be a B.A. Yogi

    peacock pose
    1. Brave the Fall…Actually Brave Many Falls. Push through challenges knowing that you may very well take a fall. These falls are lessons and opportunities for growth. No challenge equates to no change. No change equates to stagnation and boredom. You don’t want that. You want to be learning and growing as much as possible.
    2. Keep Your Drishti (Gaze) On Your Mat. It’s so easy to get caught up in what the person next to you or across from you is doing. Yes, it is impressive that so-and-so is practicing more upside down than right side up. But really, what do you care? This is your practice. This is your experience. Cultivate presence. Be really there to marinate in all the amazing effects. Kill the comparison game.
    3. Eliminate Fear. I’m not urging you to be reckless. What I mean is to stop irrational fear from clouding your potential. Some forms are fear are legit. For example, if you recently sprained your neck it probably is not reasonable to try tripod headstand for the first time for fear of re-spraining it. That’s rational. If you refuse to try headstand because you are afraid you will die, that's a different story - a story that you need to re-write, taking fear out of it.
    4. Always Be Evolving. Expand your consciousness. Read. Do. Experience.
    5. Do YOU. Live your truth. Speak your truth. You are more than enough. In fact, you are a freakin’ miracle. Why would you waste your time trying to be anything but you?
    6. Accept That You Can’t Do It All. There’s always another pose, another mantra, another book, another style of yoga, etc. You won’t be able to get it all in. Surrender to that reality, but keep getting in as much as humanly possible!
    7. Never Give Up. Don’t throw in the towel prematurely. There will always be struggles and setbacks on this path. There will always be challenges. Always keep forging ahead, one breath at a time.
    8. Adapt. Be like water. Go with the flow. When you truly let go of expectations, you realize greater freedom and happiness in the practice and in life.
    9. Take Action, Yet Practice Non-attachment. This is the paradox of the yoga practice: The intent to NEVER give up and to ALWAYS let go.
    10. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. My sister once told me, “Less is more, Tessa.” I have to constantly remind myself of this as I obsessively create better and more ways of doing this and that to the point of being totally overwhelmed. Less is usually more manageable. Less is usually more.
    11. Contribute. Ask yourself, “How can I help? How can I be of service? How can I contribute?”
    12. Accept Your Samskaras. We all come from a past – a past that, if you’re human, has parts of darkness and destruction. We all have scars. Yes, some have more and some scars run deeper, but nevertheless we are all flawed. The only way to get over it is to accept it - even embrace it. Those flaws are what make you unique, even beautiful.
    13. Leave Your Ego Out of It. Anytime I start thinking I’m an asana badass, I ultimately do something incredibly humbling. Maybe it’s taking a fall. Maybe it’s a minor injury. Whatever it is, it’s a reminder to get over myself and remain humble.
    14. Learn From Your Mistakes and Move On. You will screw up. Consider these screw ups as opportunities for growth. Then, let them go and move on. It’s a waste of your energy to cling to your past perceived wrongdoings.
    15. Listen to Your Intuitive Body. Any decision I’ve made with my gut has been the right one. Never resist your intuition. It’s so powerful.
    16. Know Who You Really Are. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” Meditate on this question. You will realize that you are many things. A parent, a sibling, a yogi, a daughter, a son, etc. But also realize that you are something destined and designed for greatness. Only you can unveil this greatness.
    17. Forgive. Forgive yourself, forgive your friends, forgive your former loves, forgive your family, forgive that stranger that cut you in line or flipped you off on the freeway, etc. Forgiveness brings peace to your experience.
    18. Express Gratitude. When it’s time to set an intention for the practice and you are blanking, this is a great go-to.
    19. Laugh. It’s just yoga, people! Don’t take it so seriously. Smile. Giggle. Crack up. This is a practice inherent with joy.
    20. Remain Receptive. Yes, we all have emotional walls and blockages. That’s why yoga is so awesome. It enhances expansion and receptivity. It creates more space to receive. Remain open to its potential. When you are fully receptive, awesome things will transpire.
    21. Put Out Positive Vibes. What you put out, you will ultimately receive in some shape or form. So, put out good energy.
    22. Really Live It Up. Don’t half-ass your human experience. It’s so transient, so fill up your precious time fulfilling your dharma (purpose) and doing all those things that bring you joy.
    23. Practice. There’s really no excuse. You’ve got yoga at your fingertips with YogaVibes, so when you’re traveling and on the go-go-go you have a resource to continue with your practice.
    24. Know That You Don’t Have All of the Answers. There is mystery to life. That’s what makes it interesting. It’s impossible to be a know-it-all so let go of any desire or urge to be one. All we can do is get things less wrong. We will never have ultimate understanding.
    25. Accept That Everything Happens for a Reason. If you can embrace this as true, life will flow with greater ease. No doubt it’s difficult – difficult, yet liberating.

    ~Tess

    Photo Credit: Peacock Pose via www.lifeismyantidrug.tumblr.com

  • The Paradox of Yoga

    Last week, I crafted a playful blog post entitled “The Get-Splits-Quick Solution,” highlighting my intention to master full Hanumanasana. Post blog, a comment (see below) surfaced that I found incredibly interesting – a comment that, subtly, sheds light on the paradox of yoga and life.

    The thing is, we all have a unique approach to the practice because we are all inherently and miraculously unique. Some of us are the go-getter Type A fanatics, while others, take on more of a go-with-the-flow, all-in-time approach. Some of us can't stop striving, while others are happy to surrender and take it “nice and easy, slow and steady.” Neither approach is better than the other. In fact, the differences in approach keep the practice interesting, leading to different styles and forms of yoga.

    But here’s why the comment inspired a response. Here’s the paradox of yoga. Yoga, like life, is filled with all of these seemingly contradictory intentions. The one I want to talk about is this: In yoga, there is this drive to never give up combined with this desire to always let go. In the practice, abhyasa is the never giving up component while vairagya, is the always letting go or “non-attachment” component. NEVER give up and ALWAYS let go. Equal part effort and ease. Simultaneous action and non-attachment. Hmmm…How does that work?

    effort and ease John Vitarelli in a pose of equal part effort (dedication) and ease (relaxation)...

    Sutra 1:12 "Both practice (abhyasa) and non-reaction (vairagya) are required to still the patterning of consciousness."

    Honestly, I’m not sure. I’d like to think that somehow we strike a balance or find some sort of happy medium (in yoga and in life). Truth is, the two opposing ideas work in concert with one another and yes, sometimes we fall on one end of the spectrum. I, for one, have a hard time letting go of attachment, be it to asana, a former lover, the past, etc. My practice has revealed that. Others however, have a hard time willing the car into drive and committing to action. But like I said, there is no right approach. I think all we can do is continue to get it less wrong.

    *** This comment may come across as a critique--I assure you it is not meant to be. In fact, I believe the reaction I'm having will inspire me to broaden my thinking about my practice, and perhaps even enrich it.

    I took my first yoga class almost 34 years ago, and mostly just dabbled in yoga--taking in the odd class here and there, but never having a personal practice, until 2010, when some health issues motivated to practice more seriously. Maybe because I started my practice so late in life (I'm 51 now) yoga has never been about getting really "bendy" (as Erich Schiffmann sometimes puts it). But I recognize that there are poses I do now that I avoided in the past, because they were too challenging. So there has been a kind of progression in my practice--but never with the kind of urgency, or even self-pressure, and accompanying frustration (the "sigh" for example) the author describes in her desire to master Hanumanasana.

    My approach with yoga has been "nice and easy, slow and steady." And maybe some would simply respond "Good for you, Prem! If that is how you practice, more power to you." But maybe I'm missing out on something by not actively pursuing, or working towards, poses that I (for sure) can't do today--like Tulasana, Hanumanasana, or Bakasana? 

    Thus far, beyond "pushing myself" to practice everyday, there hasn't been a whole lot of pushing involved. I'm not quite as "free" and spontaneous as Schiffmann's "freedom style yoga" - but I admire that approach. I feel and see myself progressing, despite not consciously holding some intention to do so. 

    I have some yoga friends who are almost competitive with each other on difficult poses when we practice together, and I tend to ignore them...but with an accompanying judgment that their good-natured "one-upmanship" might be "anti-" the "spirit of yoga" somehow--and I realize that I am probably full of it. Yoga isn't what I say it is, or should be. Yoga is vast, and can be many things to many different people, and many of these things can coexist peacefully and productively.

    So I'm invited some honest talk here. If you were to "pitch me" why I would want to "set goals" with my practice, given what you've heard thus far about my meandering, lazy, slow, but definitely steady (given I practice daily) approach, what would you say to me?

    ***

    Well my friend, I would say to you: Do what feels right for you. Follow your gut. Live your truth. Stay true to your practice. AND I would also urge you to think about the paradox of yoga – to recognize that there is this element of pushing yourself, of never giving up, and actively pursuing the practice. And, as you reveal, there is simultaneously the element of letting go and allowing things to naturally flow – the “freedom style yoga.” Both approaches, my dear yogi, are right; not only right, but required.

    ~Tess

    Photo Credit: John Vitarelli of www.dhyana-yoga.com

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