5 YOGIC PRACTICES THAT WILL HELP YOU LET GO
When I hear someone say ‘just let it go’, I actually want to do the opposite. It makes me seize up even more and hold onto what I’m trying to release. Just saying ‘let go’, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly freed from mental torment. Sometimes it can work. You have a moment of clarity and decide to release what’s been holding you back. Yet other times, your inner problems can take years to resolve. You have to have patience for self-discovery, facing your fears, and healing. Letting go is a process, a journey that gives you not only relief but opens up space for new opportunities and most importantly, brings you closer to the true version of yourself. Remember that you can only let go when you’re ready. Already the realization that you should let go of something – blame, hurt, anger, loss, resentment – is a big step on the path to liberation. You won’t be surprised when I tell you that an intelligent yoga practice not only allows you to notice the things you should let go of but also helps you in a big way to release things that keep us stuck in the past and make us worry about the future. In Hatha Yoga, the force responsible for letting go is called Apana Vayu. It’s a calming, grounding, downward-moving energy. It allows you to let go on all levels: physical, mental, emotional. Vayu in Sanskrit means wind and there are four more of them, each one is responsible for different energetic functions and moves in different directions. These are many techniques that strengthen and connect you with Apana Vayu. Let me share with you some of my favorite and most powerful tools to access that downward moving force that will help you to let go of what’s no longer needed so that you can make space for what really matters.
1. Go out of your mind, into the body
Letting go happens on an energetic level… it’s very difficult to let go of something with your thinking mind. Especially if you’re stuck in a thought pattern or a story that your ego is telling you over and over. The best way to let go of your mind is to pause, breathe, and feel into your body. Move, shake, dance, go out for a walk or scan your body while sitting in meditation. Embodiment and feeling are “feminine” energy, while thinking and planning are “masculine”. Being in your feminine (and this applies to both men and women!) helps us to soften, let go, and have more trust in life.
2. Exhale and breathe into your abdomen
Breath is the most powerful tool in yoga that changes your energetic state because it impacts your nervous system directly. When you focus more on the exhalation and breath into the abdomen, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest”. When your nervous system is calm and relaxed, it becomes much easier to let go of unnecessary tension in the body and mind. For more advanced yogis (that are used to regular pranayama, breath-work practice) adding a short pause after exhalation will have an even stronger effect.
3. Fold forward
Forward folds are asanas (yoga poses) in which the spine is folding forwards towards the legs. They have a similar effect to exhalations. They are the ultimate pose category for grounding and soothing, as they are deepening the connection to the parasympathetic nervous system. While seated forward folds have the strongest energetic impact, supine forward folds are also relaxing and restorative. My favorite forward folds that help me let go: Pyramid Pose Half Pigeon Pose Child’s Pose Paschimottanasana Apanasana
4. Mula Bandha
Bandha means “root lock” and it’s an energetic lock in the body. Mula Bandha is one of the most powerful techniques in Hatha Yoga. When you exhale and hold your breath after exhalation, this helps you to energetically let go and strengthens the grounding process. Mula Bandha is activated by lifting the perineum wall (muscles in the bottom center of your pelvis). It can take time until you feel into these subtle muscles. If this feels difficult for you, try lifting your belly below the navel in and up towards the spine. Usually, you practice Mula Bandha together with Asanas (like Forward Folds) and the breath.
5. Apana Vayu Meditation
Tantric Hatha Yoga meditations are very powerful because they help you to transform your energy. In this specific meditation, you call upon the force of Apana Vayu, the downward moving vital energy in the pelvic area. This meditation is a kriya, which means it uses energy, feeling, and sensing (rather than visualizing) to calm the mind, to bring you into a specific energetic and meditative state. For the real benefit of this meditation, you should practice it every day for at least 40 days. It goes well with an asana sequence that focuses on forward folds and exhalations.
When you are experiencing unpleasant feelings, don’t try to control or stop them. Allow them to be. Feel these feelings in your body. Where can you identify them? Don’t try to figure things out with your mind and find solutions because letting go happens on an energetic, rather than mental, level. It happens once you surrender and trust the process. And finally, remember that it is a journey and may take time! Have faith that the Universe has got your back and you are in the right place.