Between the earth & the sky:

"Letting go" in balancing asanas

Imagine you are in an airplane trying to sleep and the people nearby are talking loudly. Even worse, consider someone talking near your ear constantly. That is how the "Pratyaya", the movie theater of the mind, is. Patanjali uses this word frequently in the yoga sutras. He says in the Sadhana Pada (2nd chapter of the yoga sutras) that the Purusha (Atma) only sees this screen of the mind and listens to the sound produced by the mental chatter. It is thus not able to see its own reflection in the screen of the mind because of this constant images and sounds produced therein.

Regular practice of Meditation reduces this mental chatter so we can feel the stillness. This stillness can also be found in balancing asanas. Experienced asana practitioners will say that to be able to balance in an asana for long, one should, instead of putting extra effort to stay balanced exactly at the tipping point, let go of excess effort and relax the body. This is the secret to achieving balance in these poses.


Balancing poses are many. Some are shown below. In all these asanas, one would experience the precious states of mental stillness. The gentle focus needed to balance ensures that there are no compulsive thoughts in the mind.

In the Bhagavad Gita (18.66) Bhagavan Krishna finally tells the perplexed Arjuna,

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज ।

अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः ॥ १८-६६॥

sarvadharmānparityajya māmekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja

ahaṃ tvā sarvapāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

Abandoning all DHARMAS, (of the body, mind, and intellect) , take refuge in Me alone; I will liberate thee from all sins; grieve not.

This is the power of letting go. My meditation teacher would tell that most students attain stillness in meditation when all their efforts to get their mind concentrated end in a total failure and they finally let go.