When we hold on to something that hurts us, it can negatively impact our health and wellness. Whether it’s a grudge, toxic relationship, stress, mistake we’ve made, fear or other source of negativity, it’s important that we find ways to process and detox our lives, thoughts and emotions. To help us with the process of letting go, we can use various spiritual rituals ranging from movement practices, breathwork, meditation, chanting and even the use of objects such as crystals. Taking time to use specific letting go yoga poses allows us to move forward from unhealthy situations or memories feeling empowered.
Although it’s a good idea to set aside time throughout the year to practice letting go, Vata season is a particularly good time to set the intention of release. As the trees shed their leaves and the earth prepares to go within, we learn that everything ends eventually. Nature teaches us that the leaves no longer benefit the tree, and so the tree freely releases them. If we apply this lesson to our lives, we can unburden ourselves of the things, relationships, emotions, and thoughts that no longer serve us.
Letting Go – Where To Begin
The first step of letting go is to take inventory of your life. Here are some areas of our lives that may be experiencing burden:
- Things – As Marie Kondo says, “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” Look around you. What is serving you? What isn’t? Make space for what matters.
- Emotions – If you are holding on to anger, resentment, or heartbreaks, let them go. Forgive those who have hurt you. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. Emotions become stored in our bodies leading to energy blockage and disease. As Buddha says, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
- Relationships – Consider your relationships. Are the people in your life strengthening you, lifting you up, and helping you grow? Or is it time to let go?
- Thoughts – Reflect on those thoughts and habits which lift you up and those thoughts and habits that bring you down. What can you change today?
Let’s go over some spiritual practices that can be incorporated into a routine to release negativity.
5 Rituals for Letting Go
There are many spiritual practices that are useful for the concept of letting go. Some of these may resonate with you, while others may not. We all heal differently, so please take what works for you and leave the rest.
Letting Go Yoga Poses
One of the best types of yoga for letting go are inversions. Going upside down has been used for centuries to stabilize the mood, and studies are finding them to be helpful in lessening anxiety and depression. They can also aid in relieving headaches, improving sleep, and regulating hormones by increasing blood flow to the pineal and pituitary glands. Some beginner and intermediate level inversions include:
- Downward Facing Dog/Dolphin Pose
- Wall T-Stand
- Shoulder Stand
Heart, or chest openers are helpful for building confidence due to how expansion of the chest affects the mind. When our posture is open, our brain associates that space with safety and high self-esteem. These letting go yoga poses also allow us to bring more oxygen into the lungs which helps the brain release feel-good hormones, like endorphins, and create mental clarity. We will discuss more about breathwork in a moment, but for now, note that deep breathing is simplified with chest-opening postures. Here are chest-opening postures that will give the health benefits listed above:
- Tree Pose With “V-Shaped” Arms
- Fish Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Dancer Pose
- Cow Pose
- Sphinx Pose
Take Ujjayi Breaths
Ujjayi pranayama, also known as “ocean breath”, is an effective way to calm your nerves and become present. If you’re feeling worried, or experiencing fast-paced thinking, use this breathwork. The convenience of this breath is excellent because you can do it seated in silence, while standing or walking.
Directions: Begin by slowly inhaling through the nostrils. On the exhale, keep the mouth closed, bring the tongue to the back of the top teeth, and let the breath warm the throat. After repeating this five times, you should start to notice your energy and muscles relaxing. Due to the heating effect of this breath, it is especially nourishing during the colder weather of Vata season.
Chant for Release
Chanting “Aum”, commonly spelled as, “Om”, is also a method to relax the mind and prepare us for release.
Directions: Take an inhalation through the nostrils, open the mouth wide, and chant at least three times to feel the positive effects. Finish with ‘lion’s breath” by inhaling through the nostrils, and releasing a long sigh through the mouth to clear any remaining tension in the body.
You may also want to repeat affirmations such as “I release that which no longer serves me” to encourage your commitment to letting go.
Visualize What You Truly Want
Sometimes it can be helpful to visualize scenarios for manifestation of our desires. For letting go, think of yourself as an autumn tree and the leaves as the relationships, thoughts, and emotions you’d like to let go of. Take a moment to notice each leaf – without judgement – and then allow each leaf to fall one by one. Watch as the leaf blows away in the wind to be absorbed by the earth. Notice how you feel after each leaf falls. Are you lighter? More centered? Stronger?
You may also want to try visualizing a detailed image of your hopes and dreams. What we continuously focus on is what gradually appears in our reality. As we slowly manifest what we want, letting go of what no longer serves us becomes easier because it doesn’t align with our current goals. If the idea of swiftly removing toxicity from your life overwhelms you, this is a smooth-sailing way to back away from it, and keep the Vata dosha balanced.
Practice Meditation While Using Crystals
Crystals can be used in various ways during meditation. You can hold a single crystal in your hand, wear it as jewelry, place one large crystal in the area you meditate, or even create a grid with crystals that work together synergistically to raise your vibration. However you decide to work with crystals is your choice, but there are specific crystals that are geared towards aiding in the process of letting go. These are some of the best:
- Blue lace agate is known to help overcome bitterness and negativity. Use this crystal if you need to uplift your mood and neutralize trauma. Changing your perspective is important when trying to let go.
- Smokey quartz is a very cleansing stone and absorbs negativity. This is helpful to relieve stress, resentment, and anger that may be built up in your system.
- Lastly, rhodonite is associated with compassion. Work with rhodonite when you are looking to forgive others and cultivate acceptance. While forgiveness is a process that involves other people, it ultimately is healing for the forgiver to release any grudge or toxic emotions. If you’d like to explore more crystals to help with letting go, here are an additional, five crystals and their descriptions.
Autumn represents a beautiful time for letting go of what no longer serves us. Accepting life’s impermanence is both empowering and satisfying. Keep in mind that practicing letting go yoga poses and tools can be difficult so be patient and kind with yourself. You are taking the first step and that is a reason for joy.
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)