The indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia – the Sami – possess approximately 180 different words for ice and snow. This is not surprising being a culture steeped in winter weather with peoples’ livelihoods and pastimes built around trapping, hunting, and fishing. It makes sense that they would have different words for new snow (“vahca”), fresh powder snow (“habllek”) and the icy shell that forms on snow (“tjarvva”). Having so many words to describe something displays a more intimate knowing of that object.
As I mature, the more I realize the value of “holding lightly.” Different from “letting go,” which indicates an effort or an action that often requires more energy than I can muster; holding lightly allows me to simply open my hand (or my heart, or my mind). This tender action creates room for possibility rather than the vacuum often created by pushing something aside.
The crown jewel of the yamas, or moral tenets of yogic philosophy, is that of ahimsa, or non-violence. All other yamas and niyamas find their roots in the soil of ahimsa, since nonviolence informs the ways in which those guidelines manifest. For example, satya, or truth-telling, could easily become a way to kick people when they are down if not applied with a heavy dose of ahimsa through consideration of timing, and whether or not your truthful words need to be said aloud at all.
Your yoga teacher or your yogi friends have probably said the words “let it go” hundreds of times. We let go of expectations, let go of spare possessions, let go of our kids (or maybe hold on progressively more loosely) as they become adults in charge of their own lives.