Moving Beyond Doing: Make Your Offering Then Let It Go

I can still remember the first yoga class I ever taught.

Although I vaguely remember the sequence toward Lotus Pose, some theme about flowers blooming in the desert, being really early to the studio and so nervous I walked around on my tippy-toes for the first thirty minutes of class; I vividly remember being devastated after class, crying in my car, swearing I wasn’t cut out for this teaching thing, vowing to quit and save students from having to endure another class terribly taught.

At a loss, I emailed my teacher. Twenty-five when I completed my initial teacher training, I was blessed to have had teachers who were equally nurturing as they were knowledgeable. The advice she wrote back in response not only gave me the courage and confidence to continue teaching, but also radically shifted my understanding of what it meant to be in service (that is the deal with being a yoga teacher, after all).

She suggested that I spend a few extra moments in the car tapping into the current of grace before going into the studio to teach class – to allow grace to flow through me and guide me. Then when I was finished teaching, to spend a moment in the car offering the class back up to source.

In other words, do your best, make your offering and release the outcome. Don’t worry about it. Don’t dwell on it. You made your offering, now let it go.

I would imagine this brilliant white light flooding down through the crown of my head into my heart, enlivening every cell of my being. I would tell myself that for the next 90 minutes I would be a vessel for grace. Afterwards, I would imagine the light reversing direction, offering the class back up along with any attachments to my performance as a teacher — after all, it wasn’t all my doing anyway.

In Anusara yoga (the style I learned to teach in) we referred to “it” as grace. Call it God, supreme consciousness, Brahma, the universe, whatever you like, there is a higher power, a bigger picture. One in which we are all apart of, a power that is both us and at the same time bigger than any one of us.

That’s the tantalizing paradox of our non-dual nature. We are individuals, each of us unique, acting on our own desire out of our own will; yet we are all manifestations, and variations, of the same source – of the One. It’s really a beautiful thing. Something that our minds have a hard time rationalizing, something that we must feel in our being to know that it’s true. A higher truth if you will.

We are free to be and do and create and express ourselves out in the world, yet we have the constant support of the universe, this omnipresent web of consciousness that holds us all. We are not acting alone. We suffer when we get lost in the world of duality, forgetting the larger picture, our connection to source, believing it’s all up to us as the doer to get things done. When in actuality what you do has little to do with who you truly are.

Believing that our own self worth is based on what we accomplish, what we do, is the result of the karma mala – the veil or cloak (not the beads) that shields us from seeing our true selves, creating an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, the feeling that we have no power to act and the belief that we alone are responsible for making everything happen for ourselves.

As an achiever from a very young age and someone who has been able to make a lot happen for herself, my karma mala is like a theatre curtain blacking out my connection to source: I am the doer. It’s completely up to me to get it done, and if I can’t then, well, I must be screwed. (Can you see how overwhelming that might be?)

The antidote – make whatever it is that you’re “doing” an offering and, by default, it can’t be all about you. Offer it up. Then let it go. Whatever it is. Whatever you’re feeling conflicted about – a relationship, a performance, a job, a piece of work, anything, turn it into an offering; make yours and move on.

Teaching yoga is my service to humanity; each class an offering I make to my students. When I spend time worrying about my performance as a teacher, I make it about me. If teaching is my offering, once I’ve taught I’ve made it. It’s done. What else is there to do but to let it go?

The same goes, or can go, for your yoga practice. In Anusara yoga, we were taught to look at the asanas as expressions from the inside out, a literal offering of who we are; an artistic offering so personal to you that the external form of the pose is secondary to what’s on the inside being expressed out. I like to remind my students of that.

Their practice is an offering of gratitude for this body and breath. When they truly embody that concept, their practice transforms into something twice as meaningful – something much bigger than whether or not they nail a certain pose.

So the next time you’re on your mat, especially if you’re being particularly judgmental of your practice, remember to make it an offering. Lay everything you’ve got out on the mat and then let the rest go.

Meagan McCrary is an experienced yoga teacher (500 ERYT) and writer with a passion for helping people find more comfort, clarity, compassion and joy on the mat and in their lives. She is the author of Pick Your Yoga Practice: Exploring and Understanding Different Styles of Yoga a comprehensive encyclopedia of prominent yoga styles, including each system’s teaching methodology, elements of practice, philosophical and spiritual underpinnings, class structure, physical exertion and personal attention. Currently living in Los Angeles, Meagan teaches at the various Equinox Sports Clubs, works privately with clients and leads retreats internationally. You can find her blog, teaching schedule and latest offerings, as well as on Facebook. 

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