27 Dec Yoga and Forgiveness Learning to Let go

Forgive means to let go, although not necessarily remove or forget. John Kennedy used to say forgive your enemies but don’t forget their names. In the ideal life it is good to forgive and forget. In practical life there are cases where it is good to forget, others where you can forgive but not forget. In any case, forgiveness is a sacred form of generosity.

Letting go is something that consciously and unconsciously you learn by practicing yoga. The gesture of forgiveness is included in the act of exhaling. The expiration is the time when you let go, no worries about the future because after exhalation is the inspiration. The expiration is the moment when you pull the sight of relief. To practice forgiveness, there is no better discipline of Pranayama. The classic slow exhalation is a simple exercise that improves our ability to let go. Breath in for a count of 1,2,3,4,5 exhaling counting one and half or double of that same time. I start with a low count, I do every day 6-12 breathing cycle and increase that count slowly, with the practice. After each exercise, you will feel more relaxed and more willing to forgive yourself and others.

Why Forgive!

Through practice, self reflection, and letting go, yoga help us move past hold hurts that threaten to derail us. How can you forgive someone who’s hurt you that much! Lets not confuse forgiveness with acceptance, you don’t have to condone someone’s behavior to forgive.

Forgiveness simply allows us to let go of the hold that person has on us. Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. Not forgetting, honors our feelings and helps create proper boundaries, so we don’t keep putting ourselves in situations that are out of alignment with our true nature. Not forgiving however can make us sick. Meditation is another great way to learn to let go, as it provides a direct route to forgiveness of all kinds.   It helps to soften your heart. However when you are angry is not easy to sit and let your thoughts bubble to the surface and then dissipate. We are human beings and we have feelings when we get hurt and we suffer, this is when we need to Practice. So when you try to seat and Meditate on Letting go … first notice what your feelings really are, see where you are, that will help you to conceptualize what happened. And then drop it.

Don’t focus on the story, but when the story does come up, simply pause, let it go on, exhale, and return to that part of the body where sensation lives. Try to discover and focus on the places in your body where you feel anger, sadness, or hurt most strongly. Let yourself fully inhabit the feelings of hurt, anger, grief, or whatever else arises. Say out loud that what happened was wrong. Breath as you do this and remember that your aim is to feel the feelings, not to act them out.

Forgiveness is an act that has to do with the brain, but it is important that you act with your Heart as well. The Heart Chakra Anahata, through which we open ourselves and establish a contact with the harmony and peace by strengthening the quality and the power of our lives. The element that characterizes the heart chakra is in the air, pranayama helps to tone it up.

Usually when I teach yoga I always put an intention of Let Go to the practice to set my students more concentrated on something, and when they practice towards this intention I see them easily letting go.

I will be honest, is not an easy process, it requires time, practice of yoga asana, Pranayama and Meditation, and mostly we must be ready to let go. Write down any positive insights you gain during this process. Notice and honor your noble intention to forgive. Don’t expect instant result. You may have to do these practice several times. But understand that the process is working inwardly on a much deeper level than the mind. Rituals go to limbic brain, shifting the patterns held there and changing the memories of grievance to stored experiences of forgiveness.

By Carlotta Castangia