Wednesday, October 3, 2012

UPDog: Letting Go

Anyone who has a hobby that involves physical activity will understand how sometimes athletics, even for the casual participant, can be a metaphor for life. Pushing past the wall, climbing the hill, finishing what you start, overcoming hurdles, never giving up, getting up when you fall and the like.  I am certainly no athlete, but I am physically active and I do have a regular yoga practice and am a yoga instructor. Our life lesson today comes from yoga.

If you have ever been to a group yoga class and wondered what the instructor is doing during savasana then hold on to your seat, I am about to blow the lid wide off that long held secret. Ok, not really, because I have no idea what others do, but I usually lie quietly and think about the yoga. (This is not what we should be doing when we are in our own practice, but when I am in front of the class, that is not my practice, it is theirs). Today a thought came to me about a student of mine.

photo credit: deserthorseyoga
I usually offer several options for any posture, allowing each of us to listen to our own bodies without feeling like we have to push ourselves to do something we are not ready for, while still challenging ourselves if we would like to. I think that yoga can rise up to meet each of us wherever we are on any given day with our body or mind. And while it is true that some of the options offered may be easier or harder than others, the difficulty is not really where I want the class to focus. My desire is that everyone feel comfortable enough to both try new things that might be difficult, but also to back off when necessary. The student that I was thinking of today is always asking me, "Which way is harder?" when I offer modifications to poses. I refuse to tell him, not only because I do not want him to always push himself to choose the "hardest" option (which he will) but also, because there is no such thing. What might be harder for me, may be easier for you, and vice versa. And something that may feel easy on one day, may feel more difficult the next. One of the main focuses of regular yoga practice is to increase our ability to tune in to the needs of our body at any given moment and on any given day. Often that may mean giving ourselves permission to ease out of a posture.  The process of "letting go" is huge. We honor ourselves and others by letting go of competition, judgement and expectations. Everyday is different. Every body and everybody is different. Respecting that, and embracing that is a wonderful gift to give ourselves.

So in yoga practice, so in life. Sometimes it may be time to push ourselves, and to try new things that might be difficult. But sometimes it may be time to be gentle with ease off. This is not throwing in the towel, this is kindness. Remembering that what may be hard for one, may be easier for another and withholding judgement and competition, not only of others, but of ourselves. Being mindful that we are not required to run faster than we are able...but rejoicing that sometimes we are able to soar!

Quote of the Day: "Breathe."


  1. Like! Very nicely written and always something we need to be reminded of. THanks!

  2. Such a great post with vision and wisdom. Thanks for the suggestion to be happy with what is!