The Art of Letting Go

Alexis Novak is a yoga instructor, NASM-CPT, and mobility enthusiast. As a contributor for THE/THIRTY, Alexis will be sharing her knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics, and meditation to help you find your own personal balance between strength and serenity. Her approach to wellness is to simplify and keep a sense of humor. This month, she's sharing how to master the art of letting go.

Inhale. Exhale. There, you just let something go. If only letting everything go was that easy. Even a simple exhale is tough and forced at times when we feel anxious or stuck. So how do we let go? Cognitively, we know that "letting go" is where our freedom lives—our freedom to breathe and feel the weightless release of heavy burdens, pain, and suffering.

But how do we do that, Alexis? It's hard. I am coming to you live from the center of this process, and everything I speak to you, I am also experiencing myself. Most people see anger, resentment, jealousy, sadness, and other "push-away" emotions as bad news or a sign that we have to change something; the powerful bubble of icky emotions that sit in our gut and chest make us say, "Nope, not going there." This trigger is a powerful urge and instinctively tells us to take whatever means necessary to make the feelings disappear, though deep down we know we can't.

What would it look like if, instead, we took this as an opportunity to bravely open up to those feelings and accept them as part of ourselves? We've heard the saying, "We are not our emotions," but when we are upset, it's hard to wrap our hearts around this idea. Sometimes, the pain is so grand that it's all we see, all we feel, all we think about despite our best efforts. So what if we surrendered and stopped trying to fight what is? What if we embodied the grace we see in those we admire around us and let reality, regardless of how ugly and difficult it is, just be? What has helped me is imagining emotion as it arises as just one song on a playlist. Whether the feeling is positive or negative, it is temporary and isn't the only option on the playlist.

Below is a yoga flow I sequenced to help detox the body and "let go" of the excess we no longer need. The mantra I have paired with it is: This is how life is right now, but it won't be like this forever. Just like the asana shapes we take in a yoga class, we don't stay in their discomfort or their pleasure forever.