YogMantra | Want to Let Go of an Emotion or Opinion Bogging You Down? Here’s How Yoga Can Help – News18


We often come across the term ‘letting go’ as a means to healing, growing and achieving success and peace. But is it really that easy to let go? Are there any time-tested ways of doing it?

Dr Hansa ji, Director, Yoga Institute, Santacruz, talks to us about how ‘letting go’ is an integral concept in Yoga, with proven results in restoring mental and physical health.

Is there a ‘letting go’ concept in Yoga literature?

When you read yogic literature, you will be surprised at the wisdom of the yogis. Yoga is the science of living and the path is explained systematically in the Yoga Sutra written by Maharshi Patanjali.

In the first chapter of Yoga Sutra, there is mention of ‘Vairagya Bhava’. Vairagya implies ‘disinterestedness’ or ‘letting go’.

We identify completely with the material world and are not even aware of it, and it is this identification and attraction that must be overcome by ‘Vairagya Bhava’.

‘Vairagya’ does not merely mean a lack of interest, but rather a mastery over our attractions or reactions. The disinterestedness must be felt at all levels — inner and outer.

What is it exactly that we are letting go of?

We are letting go of all that binds us — objects, thoughts, feelings, opinions, plans, and so much more — even the desire to go to heaven. All these things fill our minds and cause us unhappiness, worry and stress. By letting go, we are setting ourselves free.

If one learns to apply ‘Vairagya’ in daily life, while going about our activities, one can remain in a peaceful state.

How is it achieved through Yogic techniques?

‘Vairagya Bhava’ can be inculcated through asanas, mudras and pranayama. Relaxation practices like Shavasana, Makarasana, Nispanda Bhava and Dradhasana are also important techniques for letting go.

‘Vairagya’ is, in fact — along with Dharma, Jnana and Aishwarya — an aspect or attitude related to yoga asanas.

Forward-bending asanas are related to the Vairagya aspect. Yoga Mudra is a good example. The bending instils a feeling of humility and acknowledgement of another entity, a Higher Reality. This makes it easy to release our opinions, our own angle of looking at things, and our ego.

Among Mudras, Yoni Mudra helps in directing the senses inwards, to experience the universe within.

In Pranayamas, Rechaka, which involves prolonged exhalation, also develops the sense of letting go. The practice of ‘Anitya Bhavana’ subtly takes us closer to becoming witness-like and detached.

Is there a neuroscience connection between ‘letting go’ and good health?

A let-go attitude generated by mindfulness and relaxation practises is linked to neurobiology.

Yogic practices can lower stress by relaxing the Amygdala, a major brain region connected with stress responses. They can help modify the default mode network, a set of brain regions associated with rumination and negative thinking.

They also support the hippocampus, another region of the brain that is involved in memory and cognitive function, and stimulate the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA (Gamma aminobutyric acid), which promote relaxation and emotional stability.

Importantly, these practices can increase neuroplasticity, which allows the brain to remodel itself and respond to stimuli in a more adaptive manner.

Because persistent stress is a known risk factor for a variety of diseases, these brain alterations contribute to greater mental and emotional well-being and can have a good effect on overall health.

Some yogic techniques like asana and pranayama stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to achieve peaceful states of mind. Meditative practices and relaxation techniques also help in stress relief.

Does ‘letting go’ help only at the mental level or also the physical level?

The mind-body connection is strong, and improvements in mental well-being often translate into physical health benefits.

However, even though letting go and managing stress through techniques can contribute to better health, they are just one aspect of a holistic approach to health. Lifestyle factors also play a crucial role in health.

What if I want to hold on? What if my mind doesn’t want to really let go? Should I still try to train my mind?

If one indulges in the objects of enjoyment and cannot let go, the mind keeps returning to it and recollects pleasures associated with it. Then, there are chances of getting stuck.

There are actually many benefits of practicing Vairagya in daily life. Your mind is less cluttered, you don’t worry that much about what happens next. When you are able to let go of these things, you find peace.

When you have learnt to detach, you can focus better, you concentrate on one task at a time, and you can think clearly. You may also begin to observe yourself from a distance and notice some behaviours that you want to change.

You do not have to become an expert at letting go. Whenever you overcome the bondage of your sense pleasures even in small ways, you set yourself free.

How long does it take to master the art of `letting go’? Are there different stages?

After doing these techniques for some time, one may experience spontaneous generation of faith in a spiritual goal, or disinterestedness in material objects.

There are four stages of Vairagya. The first is the Yatmana stage, where we try to rationalise our attraction to physical, emotional and material things. We try to resist enjoyment, while being friendly (feeling ‘Maitri’) towards those who enjoy.

This can lead to the next stage of Vyatireka, where we learn to distinguish between what we have been able to control and what we have not. This is a sign of progress.

At a later Ekendriya stage, one has gained control on many external things, but mental wishes still continue.

The last stage of ordinary Vairagya is when one has conquered all kinds of desires — called Vashikar — and the mind and senses are controlled.

You mention ‘Ordinary Vairagya’. Is there an extraordinary Vairagya?

The highest stage of ‘letting go’ is possible only when there is total awareness of the pure consciousness. Then one feels a disinterest towards the components that are at the bottom of the entire creation. One has realised that the glamour and glitter that attracts is only because of the play of the three gunas i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

All of creation behaves according to a formula, and those who know the formula do not get disturbed.

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