Up – The Ultimate Yoga Lesson

It’s Saturday night and I’m sitting alone, on the couch, with puffy eyes and a pile of Kleenex.  I just finished watching Up and feel like I’ve just watched the last 10 years of my life play before me on my TV screen.

Up tells the story of recent widower Carl who, on the morning he’s supposed to give up his home and move into an assisted living community, attaches hundreds of balloons to his house and sets off for South America, fulfilling a dream he and his late wife shared.  Precocious boy scout Russell, trying to earn his “assistance to the elderly” badge, unexpectedly ends up going along for the ride.

Colorful, cheerful and full of quirky characters, Up is a delightful kids film.  Where the parental warning should come in is for the parents.  Heads up, adults!  While Up may appear a funny and foolish movie for children, there are some highly adult themes woven through.

Up‘s message is about the importance of letting go of the past, letting go of the baggage keeping you from living a full and adventurous life.  It’s also about compassion, community, relationships and savoring the small, “boring” moments that are the moments that make life sweet. [Carl and Russell on the curb eating ice cream.]

I think that’s what makes this movie so affecting for adults — everyone can relate to Carl’s struggle to let go of the past.  Frequently we’re left dragging around our house on our backs, tied to it with a rope around our chests, lugging around a lifetime’s worth of clutter and baggage.   We attach so much importance and value to these things, that we miss out on the adventures of life unfolding in front of our eyes, determined to keep dragging the house as we plod down the path we think we should be on.

When we’re asked to give this mental/emotional/physical baggage up, when we’re challenged to think or act differently, we become defensive.  In one scene, Carl yells at Russell, “I didn’t ask for any of this!”  Whether or not we asked for it, this is our life.  Good, bad or indifferent.  And like Carl, in order to move on, we need to let it go.

Maybe this movie affected me so much because of where I am in my life right now.  Maybe it’s affected all adults like this: parents and grandparents surreptitiously blinking back the tears in a dark theatre.  Either way, I love it and feel like I got as much out of this movie as a top-notch yoga workshop or meditation workshop.  Pretty awesome when modern media can achieve something like that.


10 responses to “Up – The Ultimate Yoga Lesson

  1. Sooo… yeah, to answer your tweet, it does get better. 🙂

    I also was taken aback with how deep the movie went and how glad I was that they went there. I think one of the biggest things that has hindered people in my family is the fear of letting go of the past. I have tried my best to veer off that path and keep the wheels of change spinning as much as possible. It is, indeed a wonderful feeling to embark on a new journey. Sometimes scary, yes, but the scariness becomes less and less each time. Then it gets a little addictive. 🙂

  2. Great post. The movie is wonderful and I definitely agree about the adult themes. It can be quite heavy at times!

    PQ likes to knock on the wall and pretend to be at the front door. When I pretend to ‘open’ the door, he says (in a geeky voice): “Hi. My name is Russell. I am a Wilderness Explorer.”

    It cracks me up EVERY SINGLE TIME!

    • HA! Awesome, Mama H! It’s good to know that “family friendly” movies (a la the early days of Sesame Street) do still exist, and both parents and children can get something out of it.

  3. Yes, Abby, a wonderful movie. Just the opening sequence had me choked up. Everyone I’ve spoke with has been deeply touched by the personal themes presented in a fun way yet often full of melancholy. I think all of us can learn something from the messages presented in Up.

  4. OK, all three of you have just convinced me to watch the movie.

    Peer pressure? Or an eye-opening beam of enlightenment?


    michael j
    Conshohocken PA USA

  5. Have you ever tried out the Sedona Method for letting go of “stuff”?
    (Not necessarily attachment to the past, but to any feeling or

    It’s extremely simple but that makes it something that can be more
    easily made an automatic part of your thinking (not something that I
    have done yet, but I am interested in going down that road).

    The basic questions are the following:

    1 Could I let this feeling go? or
    Could I allow this feeling to be here? or
    Could I welcome this feeling?

    2 Would I? (In other words: Am I willing to let go?)
    3 (If not) Would I rather have this feeling, or would I rather be free?
    4 When?

    • Interesting method! I think it would appeal to a lot of people since it’s very direct and active, with simple goals that can (mostly) be answered with a yes or no. It sets up a logical, reasonable pattern of thinking so we can step back, rationally look at our feelings and decide what we want to do about it. Pema Chodron shares a similar method in her meditation book, though the language is slightly different. Love it!

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