Accept and release. Accept and release. This has been the focus of my teachings this week on and off the mat.
I have found many things in my life challenging and as a stubborn Taurean I have also been reluctant to accept change. Yet it happens. Sh!t happens. And there are so many micro and macro moments in life where you stand bemused, anguished or upset at what life has thrown at you. The Universe kindly provided me with the perfect example for you this week! On Thursday I was teaching a class in a gym on this exact topic and I had just placed my students gently down to rest in savasana in peace and quiet. But seconds later a storm appeared from nowhere and torrential rain came pouring through the four open skylights onto me and them! As the person ‘in charge’ I slopped through the puddles and hopped about in the pouring rain with the pole to slam the windows shut which I almost couldn’t reach. I’m only 5’3”! And in my rather soggy state the irony of that moment was not lost on me…
During many small and larger moments in my life over the last couple of weeks I have been using ‘accept and release’ as a bit of a mantra and it came to me when I started thinking about the simple act of breathing! When we inhale we accept the breath in to the body. Each and every breath, as it is. Whether that be a short shallow breath or deep down to the belly and whether we truly feel it or just know that it happened. When we exhale we release – we release stale air and we release the air from the body creating space for the next inhale. In yoga we also use the exhale to release tension, emotions and energy, letting the breath soften the belly and the body which also calms the mind. And there are particular postures too which help us release tension and emotions – for example twists are used to wring us out like a damp cloth (which I also used literally after that yoga class!). And there’s also wind release pose (pavanmuktasana) which l like telling my students about as it makes them giggle nervously in class!
When we are faced with a situation we don’t like we have two options – we can accept it and accept that it is just part of life to have to handle things we don’t like and which don’t meet our expectations. Or we can release – we can release the emotions we feel –that frustration, anger, sadness or anxiety. Holding on to the emotions doesn’t change the situation but it does change the intensity of it and how we then react to it. And sometimes, if we are honest, we also have a choice to release ourselves from the situation that’s causing us the stress in the first place. At times we hold ourselves back from change through fear, through sadness or a reluctance to accept that the outcome is not what we wanted.
I have found it to be irritatingly true that there are valuable insights and lessons learned from those awkward people or painful moments in life. I have also found in some situations that acknowledging I have made an active choice helps me to accept the reality of a situation a little more. It helps me let things be as they are, to stay present and not worry about what things will become. It’s also a bit like being a vegetarian in Southport. I am actively disappointed by the limited options available in eateries but that IS. MY. CHOICE.
I don’t suggest any of this flippantly. There are huge traumatic life events that just make you think life is cruel, makes no sense and which seem impossible to ever accept. And in those moments it’s important to be kind to yourself and just let yourself feel and release the emotions. But perhaps this is something for you to try when you burn your toast, or your partner leaves the loo seat up or a client leaves you feedback which you disagree with. Like everything in life, you start small and then build yourself up. With yoga you don’t bust out the headstand without building up your core strength first or if you go running, you don’t push through a marathon without first making it round the block. And let’s be frank, it is also a bit like farting. Accept you need to and release. Accept and release.