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Master the art of letting go with Yin yoga

We often hear the words “let go” in yoga classes and I often use these words myself. But what does it actually mean and why is it so important to let go?

It’s fairly easy to understand the concept of letting go of muscular tension by relaxing the muscles, but the idea of letting go of our limiting beliefs, behaviours and emotions may feel a little harder to do.

In this blog post, I share some of the insights I’ve gained through the practice of Yin over the past few years and, more recently, from reading The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer.

The process of letting go in Yin yoga

“You just let go. It’s simply a matter of taking the risk that you are better off letting go than going with the energy.” – Michael A. Singer

In our fast-paced world filled with constant demands and distractions, the art of letting go has become a crucial skill for maintaining inner peace and balance. One powerful way to cultivate this ability is through the practice of Yin yoga, a gentle and meditative style of yoga that focuses on deep stretching and holding poses for extended periods of time. By surrendering to the present moment and releasing tension in both body and mind, students can experience profound levels of relaxation and peace.

The concept of ‘letting go’ is the essence of a Yin yoga practice. I often guide students to yield to the pose (not to strive to do the pose), to relax, release and let go. In each pose, students are encouraged to soften and relax the muscles, breathe deeply and release any gripping or resistance held within the body. This process not only helps to improve flexibility and joint health but also invites a sense of surrender and acceptance into one’s life off the mat.

Through the practice of letting go physically, individuals can learn to release emotional attachments, fears and limiting beliefs, paving the way for greater emotional freedom and clarity. One of my previous blog posts Looking for a stress releasing practice? Try Yin yoga offers techniques to reduce stress using Yin yoga.

Balloons floating in the sky

Breathing into discomfort

When we practise Yin, it can sometimes be deeply uncomfortable and we use the breath to guide us through this discomfort. We’re practising being with this discomfort and this is a great tool to use outside of the yoga studio. Our practice is our life essentially – how we handle the stresses of everyday life – not just the 60 minutes in a yoga class.

In Yin yoga when we practise how to ‘let go’, it serves as a gentle reminder to trust in the process and allow oneself to release that which no longer serves us. As students hold poses for an extended duration, they may encounter physical or emotional discomfort. In these moments, the invitation is to breathe through the sensations, observe the mind’s response and choose to let go of the need to control or resist.

Letting go of emotions

Fascia has a complex relationship with trauma. Whether physical or emotional, trauma can result in the fascia becoming tight and restricted, which can cause pain, decreased flexibility and altered posture. Some people believe that trauma can also be stored in the fascia, leading to long-term physical and emotional issues. However, the exact mechanisms of this relationship are still being studied and understood.

Many practitioners believe that techniques such as myofascial release, other forms of bodywork and yoga can help address the issues of trauma held in the fascia.

“Fear is the cause of every problem. It’s the root of all prejudices and the negative emotions of anger, jealousy, and possessiveness. If you had no fear, you could be perfectly happy living in this world.” – Michael A. Singer

To learn more about trauma and its relationship to yoga, take a look at last month’s blog post How to regulate trauma response with Yin yoga.

Michael Singer and “The art of letting go”

The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I first listened to The Untethered Soul on Audible whilst doing my daily walk. There was so much to take in and some concepts I didn’t fully understand, so I bought the book so that I could re-read the bits I was struggling with.

This book has opened me up to so many new ways of thinking. It’s already helped me much more than any other book I’ve read and has helped me evolve in my personal life and as a yoga teacher. I often share snippets of wisdom from The Untethered Soul during my Yin classes.

I highly recommend this book. It will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you. You’ll discover what you can do to put an end to the habitual thoughts and emotions that limit you.

Michael Singer shows us how the development of consciousness can enable us all to stay in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realisation.

Key takeaways

Here are some of the things I learnt from reading The Untethered Soul:

  • There’s a voice in your head that chatters incessantly. The only way to stop it is to step back and view it objectively.
  • Much of what the voice says is meaningless; a waste of time and energy.
  • Eventually, you’ll see that the real cause of problems is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes problems.
  • Personal growth is about transcending the part of you that’s not okay and needs protection.
  • You live in the seat of consciousness. You’re behind everything, just watching. That’s your true home.
  • Opening your heart allows energy in and closing blocks it out. If you want to stay open, pay attention when you feel love and enthusiasm. Then ask yourself why you can’t feel this all the time. The more you stay open, the more energy flow can build.
  • You can affect other people and your own body with the flow of your energy.
  • Through awareness and willful efforts you can learn to keep yourself open.
  • Everything that did not make it through you (a cycle of stored past energy patterns), from the time you were a baby all the way to this moment, is still inside you. This builds up and restricts energy flow.
  • You’re either trying to push energies away because they bother you, or you’re trying to keep energies close because you like them. In both cases, you’re not letting them pass, and you’re wasting precious energy by blocking the flow through resisting and clinging.
  • Unending inspiration, unending love and unending openness is the natural state of a healthy heart.
  • Allow the experiences of life to come in and pass through your being. If old energies come back up because you were unable to process them before, let go of them now.
  • Open, relax your heart, forgive, laugh or do anything you want. Just don’t push it back down. If it was stored with pain, it’s going to release with pain. It only hurts for a minute and then it’s over.
  • Learn to be centred enough to just watch this stuff come up. Once you sit deeply enough inside to stop fighting the stored energy patterns, they’ll come up constantly and pass right through you. Your heart will become accustomed to the process of releasing and cleansing.
  • If you aren’t centred, your consciousness is just following whatever catches its attention. Your energy (and life) is very scattered.
  • If you want to be free, then every time you feel any change in the energy flow, relax behind it.
  • If you can learn to remain centred with the smaller things, you’ll see that you can also remain centred with bigger things.
  • You can do one of two things with fear: you can recognise that you have it and work to release it, or you can keep it and try to hide from it.
  • Fear is the cause of all problems.
  • You’re either trying to stop suffering, controlling your environment to avoid suffering or worrying about suffering in the future.
  • Anxious inner talk is a form of suffering.
  • You’re constantly trying to stay inside your comfort zone. The moment somebody starts behaving in a way that’s outside your expectations, your mind starts talking, telling you to fix it.
  • The purpose of your life is to enjoy and learn from your experiences.
  • Meditation strengthens your centre of consciousness so that you’re always aware enough to not allow your heart to close.
  • No matter what happens, don’t close your heart.

This book has shown me how to deal with pain, emotions and thoughts as they come up. Once I recognise the issue, I can take a step back, feel it and let it go. It’s usually a physical sensation in the heart or gut. Once I feel it, I observe it, acknowledge it and let it go. I can also now feel the physical release, the peace and the calm once it’s gone. I can feel my heart opening. Combining these techniques with a releasing Yin practice can be incredibly powerful.

Person suspended from a rock by a rope

Letting go of what no longer serves us

Mastering the art of letting go with Yin yoga is a profound and transformative practice. By embracing the principles of surrender, acceptance and release, we can experience greater freedom, peace and balance in our lives. Through the gentle guidance of Yin yoga, we can learn to let go of what no longer serves us and invite in a sense of lightness and ease.

By incorporating Yin yoga into a regular wellness routine, we can cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness, resilience and peace. The practice of letting go becomes not just a physical experience but a journey of self-discovery and growth. As we learn to release tension and tightness in the body, we also create space for healing, transformation and a deeper connection to our true selves.

And when we combine a Yin practice with philosophy and spirituality, when we listen to the wisdom of the mystics and wise spiritual leaders, we delve into the deeper realms of what it means to be human, what it means to have a soul, what life is.

So, take a deep breath, let go of expectations and step onto your mat to explore the powerful practice of letting go with Yin yoga. If you come to one of my classes, you might also hear some words of wisdom from The Untethered Soul.

“The only permanent solution to your problems is to go inside and let go of the part of you that seems to have so many problems with reality.” – Michael A. Singer

Woman floating in water

‘She let go’ by Safire Rose

This beautiful poem by Safire Rose sums up the art of letting go.

She let go
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…
– Safire Rose

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