“It’s not about doing … It’s about undoing … letting go … releasing … allowing … opening … softening … everything will happen naturally – if you let it.” From “Breath: the essence of yoga” by Sandra Sabatini
I read this yesterday and thought “Yes! This is why I love yoga”.
I love the way I feel more open, softer and grounded while and after I practise yoga and relaxation. I love the sense of freedom of movement it brings.
It enables me to connect to my breath – I breathe deeper, easier and fuller. This eases away tensions and restrictions. I feel free.
A life of work
Because so many things in life require effort don’t they?!
Throughout our education, to work, to raising a family, to our leisure time we are encouraged to work / play hard to reap the rewards of good qualifications, to be successful in our jobs, to do the best for our kids and to make the most of our spare time. Hard work. Concentration. Application. Doing, doing, doing…
Now I’m not suggesting that working hard is a bad thing in itself: applying our skills, talents and focus to whatever we have in hand can be deeply fulfilling.
However, doing, doing, doing can easily become our default setting … and we forget how to relax. And that’s when stresses, strains and anxiety can start to develop – in both our body and mind.
From doing … to being
For me, practising yoga slowly and gently helps me to feel I’m being, not just doing. Yes, practising yoga is an act in itself, so you could say that you’re doing something rather than simply being.
But this distinction is a state of mind.
Practising yoga with the intention to release and let go and just be with whatever arises brings a delightful sense of freedom.
Next time you go to class or step on your yoga mat, try to focus simply on being. Focus not on what you can do, but what you can undo; what you can release and let go.
Learn to let go
Try surrendering to the moment; withdraw your senses into your body and breath and feel your way through your movement rather than thinking about it and judging it.
This intention is particularly beneficial (and beautiful) when lying in Relaxation at the end of a yoga practice.
Surrender to gravity and let the strong earth hold you.
Don’t try to relax: lie or sit on the ground and let it come to you. With each out breath invite tightness and tension to melt away. Let it happen… And if the mind starts prattling, notice it and gently bring your focus back onto each out breath, dissolving tension and quietening your mind.
As we experience the benefits of letting go in our yoga practice, we can bring this sense into our life every day.
We begin to notice how we’re sitting and moving and whether and where we’re holding tension: and we can breathe out and let it go.
We notice the effect our emotions and thoughts have on our body. For example, the way frustration or anger tightens our abdomen or throat: and we can breathe out and let it go.
We remember to pay attention to our breath and notice if we’re holding our breath when we concentrate or we’re breathing shallowly because we’re nervous or excited: and we can breathe out and let it go.
Over to you
I invite you to take a moment now to scan your awareness through your body – from your feet to your head. Are you holding tension? If so, which areas feel tight or constricted?
And how is your breath? Is it smooth or rough? Deep or shallow?
Notice, without judgement: then breathe out and let it go…
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Stella Tomlinson teaches slow, flowing Dru yoga in Southampton, UK, to improve posture, flexibility and spinal health. Dru yoga is characterised by graceful movements, directed breathing, relaxation techniques and working with affirmations and visualisations.