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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

The Art of Letting Go: Yoga’s Role in Releasing Attachments

Dec 01, 2023 06:00AM ● By Lana Kravtsova
In our fast-paced modern society—burdened with technology, deadlines and unending to-do lists—ancient practices of mindfulness have reemerged as a refuge. However, as we strive for presence, we often find that our minds are entangled in various attachments—material, emotional or spiritual. 

“Attachment” refers to the deep-seated habit of seeking happiness in transient things, leading to a cycle of craving and aversion. We become attached to people and places, titles and possessions. We also cling to our past traumas and experiences. Most importantly, we hold onto our identities and past versions of ourselves, even when we desperately want to grow and change. Transformation and growth become challenging when we carry so many attachments within our psyches.

As we navigate the waves of change that life offers, yoga serves as both an anchor and a sail, grounding us in awareness while propelling us toward growth. It gives us the mental clarity to recognize what must be let go and the emotional strength to actually do it.

Freeing One’s Higher Purpose

What if we could relinquish our attachments through a practice that has stood the test of time?
Yoga, a spiritual and physical discipline originating over 5,000 years ago, is designed for just that. While modern Western interpretations often focus on asanas, or physical postures, of yoga, in its entirety, yoga is a holistic lifestyle that teaches the art of letting go.

Lisa Harmon, a renowned yoga teacher and spiritual guide, explains, “Letting go allows us to live more fully, and for practitioners of yoga, this is the ultimate aim. Through yoga, we learn to recognize and release attachments that are inconsistent with our higher purpose.”

“It’s a profound experience—realizing that letting go is not a loss but a gain, a return to your authentic self,” shares Janet Matthews, a longtime yoga practitioner.

When we let go of past versions of ourselves, we don’t lose our essence; we allow it to shine brighter. Yoga enables this shedding of old skins, inviting us to step into newer, fuller versions of ourselves. 

“The only constant is change,” states Dr. Linda Green, a psychologist and yoga therapist. “Yoga helps us internalize this fundamental truth, making it easier to let go of outdated self-concepts.” 

The Role of The Breath

The role of breathing in yoga is not just physiological; it serves as a vital link between the mind and body. Controlled breathing practices, or pranayama, help practitioners achieve mental clarity and emotional calm. A secondary analysis of multiple studies in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy suggests that pranayama can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, aiding the process of letting go.

“As you deepen your breath, you deepen your awareness. Detaching from something requires first being fully aware of it,” says Harmon. Deepening your awareness is key to noticing and identifying emotions, thoughts and behaviors that don’t serve you anymore. 

“Breathing is like a soft breeze that clears the fog,” says yoga instructor Sarah Evans. “With every conscious inhalation and exhalation, you’re not just enriching your body with oxygen; you’re also clarifying your sense of self.”

The Role of Asanas

Some yoga postures are specifically designed to target emotional blockages stored in the body, like the hips or heart area. These asanas can serve as catalysts for releasing past traumas and stress. For example, a deep hip opener, pigeon pose, is popular for eliciting emotional release. 

“In my 20 years of practice, pigeon pose has always been the go-to asana for emotional healing,” says Evans. “People often hold back tears when they first experience the intensity of this pose.”

Child’s pose is another profound asana for emotional release. By folding ourselves into a fetal position, we invoke the primal sense of safety and nurturing. This protective posture can unearth vulnerable emotions, offering an opportunity to confront and release them.

“Child’s pose brings us back to a womb-like state of safety,” explains Dr. Melanie Johnson, a psychologist and yoga therapist. “For those dealing with anxiety or past traumas, this pose can facilitate a gentle letting go.” 

Through these asanas, we are given a physical and psychological space to meet, acknowledge, and ultimately let go of our old identities. 

The Role of Meditation

Through practices like mindfulness meditation, we become better at observing our thoughts and emotions without judgment. This increased self-awareness enables us to recognize aspects of ourselves that are transient, facilitating the process of letting go.

Meditation techniques that involve visualization or mantras can be potent tools for self-transformation. By focusing on an image or sound that resonates with the version of ourselves we aspire to be, we’re more readily able to release past versions that hinder our growth.

“Mantra meditation is particularly powerful,” notes Green. “Sound frequencies can alter brain waves, making it easier for us to access and reform deep-seated beliefs about ourselves.”

The art of letting go, as offered by yoga, isn’t merely an ancient teaching; it’s a relevant, living practice inviting us to more fully embrace life in its most beautiful and most challenging moments. ❧
Lana Kravtsova is a coach and a creator of personal development programs. Her exploration into conscious life change led her to discover yoga as a transformative tool. She develops practices for conscious growth at Aum Center for Wellness in Alpharetta.
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