Many of us are ready to let 2017 go. No matter the year, late December can inspire reflections of goodbyes and letting go. Doing so can make space for what would most benefit us moving forward. That said, plenty of people wouldn’t mind hanging on to a peak moment or momentum from 2017.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what people prefer to hold on to and what they’d rather release. Overwhelm is something most folks are happy to shed. On the other hand, people go to great lengths to hold on to something like joy or a heartfelt connection.

One might think anger and sadness distinctly fall into the letting go camp. For many, in many moments, they do. We often devote a great deal of energy and resources to move them along, for good reason. Some folks though discerningly choose to hold up these rough feelings. Making room at the table for such emotional terrain can be a way of holding on to vital hope – hope for visibility, healing, transformation and even eventually more joy and heartfelt connections. As Rumi says, “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

Below are practices to strengthen discernment and capacity for holding on and letting go, as we all say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018. They pair well with asana (physical yoga postures) along with many of life’s off-the-mat moments.

What supports you in holding on, letting go, or knowing when to do what? I’d love to hear from you at ashley@8limbsyoga.com.

  • Calming Breath: Inhale for a count of 4, pause (for a micro-moment up to a count of 4), exhale for a count of 6. Explore sensations in body throughout the entire cycle. Optional: make a shhhhh sound throughout exhales.
  • Compassionate Breath*: Take a few breath cycles to abide in the way your inhalations energize and nourish while exhalations can relax and soothe.
  • Sound Meditation: Spend a few moments attuning to ambient sounds. Rather than seeking sounds out, cultivate a receptive quality by allowing sounds to come to you, and to naturally dissipate. Perhaps notice space between sounds as well.
  • Double Body Scan: Beginning at your feet, and working your way up to your head, notice sensations of stability and grounding. Feel into touch-points between body and surfaces below, and the support these surfaces lend. Bring attention to the way your spine naturally elongates and torso muscles hold you. Take time to savor stability throughout body. Then reverse your scan. In this round, intentionally release unnecessary holding or tension. Soften forehead, eyes, and jaw. Perhaps roll shoulders up, back and down, sensing into ease and spaciousness. Explore feeling hands and feet from the inside as you gently relax fingers and toes. You may want to bring extra attention to common areas of physical tension. Taking time to savor ease.
* Adapted from Dr. Kristin Neff’s Affectionate Breathing Practice.

Posted by: Ashley Dahl, 8 Limbs Executive Director

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