How I Release What Doesn't Serve Me

Solutions can be elusive. Sometimes my mind feels like a desk piled high with print outs -- presentations and research papers and analytics reports. Rather than painstakingly plow through it all, I find it so much more effective to just toss it wholesale into the circular file. Enter yoga.

When seemingly intractable problems become obstacles, I walk them into a yoga studio. Some yoga instructors will say to check your problems at the door, but that's not always possible for me. When there's something nagging at me, I walk into my yoga practice with an intension -- to find a win-win solution that serves the highest good. I've yet to be disappointed.

I'm the kind of person that mentally wrestles with a problem and then beats it beyond recognition. I really hate not getting what I want when I want it. Here the critical voices derive from my frontal lobe, where reason and logic and ego reign. Some call this phenomenon, "monkey chatter."

One of the great lessons from my yoga teacher training is that no pose is ever perfectly expressed. Like life, each pose is a dynamic tussle between opposing forces. So when an instructor says to press down through your figure tips in down dog, you've then likely lost focus on pressing back through your heals, or some other part of your body in the pose.

But here's my takeaway: All those verbal cues from the yoga instructor aren't just meant to get you in physical alignment. They're also using your body to distract you from the world beyond your mat and focus instead on the moment between its edges. It's a trick for physical and mental alignment. Here is where the magic happens.

Recently, I walked into my yoga practice with a nagging thorn: a girl who's all wrong for me, but somehow had consumed weeks of precious mind share. Hardly the biggest problem, but that mental space could be put to much better use. I was well into class and beyond my chatter brain -- amenable to suggestion -- when the instructor said, "Release what doesn't serve you." At that moment, I realized that I hadn't been able to gracefully let go of something that obviously wasn't meant for me.

And beyond that, what did this infatuation reveal about my relationship to women? I peeled back another layer of the onion. As I flowed through class, I let those thoughts simmer and from it arose a mantra: Release what doesn't serve you. And be grateful for what it revealed about you. My desk had cleared.