I spent Easter morning on a borrowed yoga mat. I visited a new studio in the Chicago suburbs aptly named, Nirvana. The studio was unbelievably not what I am accustomed to. The doors were unlocked. No one was in the lobby. Located on their community table was a cash box with a sign on it that said, “Please place cash or check inside.” I signed into class and waited around for someone to come along and help me register for class. After 10 minutes of being solo I poked my head into the studio to see if the teacher was in there. To my shock there was a meditation going on! Students in lotus pose had their eyes closed and were peacefully mediating. The instructor waved me in, however, I quickly shut the door and waited until the class was over #mortified.
Around 9:30am a beautiful teacher opened the studio door and welcomed me with the biggest smile. I apologized profusely for walking into her class. “I would have loved for you to of come in for a little bit of meditation..you didn’t have to run away.” Instantly, I knew this was going to be a good yoga session.
The entire class was based around our hips. The instructor spoke to letting go and letting in. Throughout our life we will experience numerous life transitions. We are constantly ebbing and flowing. So it is important to not hold on and to appreciate the moments for what they are, learn from them, grow from them and hopefully move on from them. Attachment is a tricky thing. It is my biggest battle. I want to hold on to past conversations, situations, people, events and memories. It is a challenge for me to observe a moment and not hold on to it. In Sanskrit this idea is called, Ahbyasa and Vairagya. Ahbyasa translates to effort. Vairagya translates to letting go.
When I step on my mat and approach a posture with Ahbyasa, I ask myself, “Is this for my ego or my Spirit?” If it is for my ego, I work to let it go and find rest or Vairagya. Finding that balance every time I practice yoga is a huge obstacle for me. When do we hold on and when do we back off and let go? The answer in my opinion is this: Does it serve my spirit? If so, continue the effort. If no, release it.
It is in our yoga practice that we aim to find a balance between the two…holding on and releasing. When we hold on to things, people, events, we will most likely find tightness or tension in our physical body. It isn’t until we are able to breathe through the uncomfortable poses or asanas that we find some physical release. But how to find an emotional release from these tensions? Isn’t until we ask ourselves, “Is this person/feeling/situation serving my soul?” that we truly are able to connect with our true Self and either hold on or let go. When we experience a physical breakthrough on our mats, the emotional breakthroughs happen immediately after- we are able to release the things that do not serve our true purpose or Self.
When the teacher woke us up from Savasana, she left us this reading from “Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion.” It spoke to me beyond measure.
For me, staying open to change, transition and movement is challenging. Instinctively, I want to hold on as long as I can. But can I find happiness in that? To be honest no. Learning about Vairagya has helped me acknowledge moments/experiences/transitions for what they are and then release them so I can stay present and true to my Self. Some days I hold on to things more than other days. Other days, I am a complete free spirit with no care. The ultimate challenge as yogis is to find a middle ground between the Ahbyasa and Vairagya in life and to embrace what the universe throws at us- no questions asked.
light and love,