How Yoga Has Helped Me Let Go of My Need for Control

Yoga

Sharing this makes me feel silly and vulnerable, but here goes…I’ve started yoga. I don’t dare venture into a yoga class. I mean, come on, there would be other people. A close friend of mine is a yoga instructor and she’s been gracious enough to give me pointers along the way.

I found a wonderful beginner course and I’ve been learning a lot. First, I need to let go of this expectation that I’m secretly a contortionist and I can bend like a noodle. As soon as I accept myself where I am it is a lot easier to make progress.  That progress has been so exciting. I catch myself being able to bend and do more than before. The first time I could arm balance (for more than a second) I was freaking out. It has done wonders for my love and appreciation of my body. What a gift! What a blessing.

Also, my body and my heart speak volumes more than I’ve heard before. Guidelines of what’s right and wrong to do in a yoga pose are wonderful, but as I’ve done more I’m realizing my body is adept at telling me what doesn’t feel good. There’s been carry over for me emotionally too. I can identify patterns in my day that make it easy for a little thing to sabotage me. I catch myself a lot more now before I lose my temper, that alone has been a massive blessing.

The Anxiety of Waiting

But the biggest blessing for me right now that has come from my yoga practice has been about learning to be intentionally still and detaching. I am in the middle of what feels like a big wait. On a bad day the anxiety makes me crazy. There’s been a perpetual tightness in my chest that shortens my breath and makes me feel like holding still is impossible. I struggle with the feeling that there is nothing left for me to do to help a situation and that things are out of my control.

I feel like this is something I’ve grappled with most of my adult life, trying to figure out how to wait. Life is full of waiting moments, some more painful than others. Trying to start a family, waiting to hear back on a job, trying to sell a house, going through illness, piecing together a struggling marriage, and lots of other situations.

Wisdom from the Mountain

There’s a pose in yoga called tadasana, or mountain pose. I thought this pose was silly at first because it looks like you’re just standing. Woohoo, lookie here you yogi, standing! (I’ve since repented of my skepticism).

If you’re doing it right though it’s a completely physically involved pose. You are mindful about everything your body is doing. Your alignment, your openness, lengthening your spine, strength in your legs and arms. Your feet are grounding you, your arms are strong, and your breath! When I’m in my flow it’s like I’ve never breathed before. And each breath just brings joy and energy into me. It’s intentional. It’s not a chore, but a blessing.

On the exterior when I’m doing this pose I’m sure it looks like I’m just standing there breathing. But I didn’t just show up here, I arrived. Every moment that brought me to this point was felt and intentional. Waiting is a lot like that. Waiting is so involved, but it can look like you’re just hanging out. Being in a place where I feel like I can wait and be sane takes such strong intentions. When I’m in that flow, I feel so grateful, alive, and patient. I think that’s where grace can wash over me and I can detach from my need to control.

Detaching

There’s a crossroads for me here emotionally, and I walk here daily. I can choose to try to reassert my control over the situation, which for me looks like researching stats and interview techniques, and more. That can be helpful, and I’m all for doing your research, but when I do it to assert my control of the situation it becomes quickly a downward spiral of frustration.

Then there’s the road less traveled, by me at least. I can let go. I can detach. My situation is out of my control. That can be terrifying or that can be a relief if I trust my Higher Power and get out of the way of what He wants to do.

It’s hard to learn how to let go. For me my letting go practice must be tangible. Gratitude is a huge help for me to let go, but that’s a post for another day. Taking time for myself to recharge and center helps me relinquish my illusion of control. For you that might be reading a good book or scripture. You could go to the gym. Paint, play music, be creative. For me it’s all those things and a little yoga. Try different things that bring you peace.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle or go crazy with anxiety. I do feel empowered, though, that I can make those days and moments fewer. I never dare suggest a cure all, but I do think that healing, recovery, and patience can come in many different ways and varieties. For me today I found a little peace and grace in yoga.