March 2014

The power of letting go

I love to hear about the power of letting go.

There’s a winter weather warning out in Memphis tonight. Ice, snow and sleet are predicted. Mayor Luttrell has declared a state of emergency for Shelby County. He advises people to stay home if they can, and to stay home during rush hour tomorrow morning.

Still, it was hard for me to cancel the morning classes.

I finally chose to cancel after considering one of the main tenets of yoga: ahimsa (non-harming). We must do what we can so that others are not harmed. That means I heed warnings and consider the safety of the people in my life.

I had a hard time letting go of my “show-must-go-on” work ethic. Letting go is never easy for me.

I’m a busy person who loves to do things. Settling down and getting quiet goes against the grain of my personality most of the time. Anything that seems like waving the white flag in an attitude of “surrender” challenges me.

My theatre colleague Mike Detroit once told me, “You have to FORCE yourself to relax!”

We were in a stressful rehearsal. I wanted to sing in a loud & strong voice. I was straining my body and pushing my voice — leading to a weak sound and  exhaustion.

Mike’s forced relaxation idea sounded hilarious to me. What a paradox: forced relaxation!

Years later, I am just starting to understand what he said.

Most of the time:
My go-to speed is fast.
My default answer is YES!
My energy says GO!

If I’m ever going to relax, it’s going to be because I choose to do it. And because I work at it. It doesn’t feel natural at all.

Here’s what I have to do:


Set aside the time to do it.
Turn off all distractions.
Leave my to-do list undone.


In the interest of full disclosure:
Often I am unsuccessful.

But…shaming myself for over-scheduling, over-committing, and over-doing does not work for me.

I’m a do-er! And maybe you are too.

When you’re caught up in your passion for work, your drive for perfection, your habits and patterns, you might just have to wear yourself out.

No matter how hard you try to balance the yin and yang of your life, you might err on the side of too much yang sometimes.

It doesn’t make you a failure. It just means some days you are going to be exhausted.

It also means that that your yoga practice has the potential to help you a whole lot!

In yoga, you practice skills that are required to deal with all your obstacles — not just your tight muscles.

You learn the skills of self-reflection, how to create the conditions for relaxation.

And sometimes, you get lucky and are able to force yourself to relax.