Thursday, May 09, 2013

Why I Love Yoga: Surrender

The second reason why I love yoga? The surrender.

Now, make no mistake: when you're practicing yoga, you need to just give up all your expectations. You don't know what that session on the mat is going to be like. You might have had a fabulous practice six hours earlier, but now, all you can do is hang out in Down Dog or Child's Pose. You have to surrender to what your body wants.

Yesterday, in our Blissful Hips class, we did Pigeon Pose (of course). This pose is always a powerful one for me. Moving into the pose with one leg stretched out behind me, the other one tucked under my belly and pointing out to the side, brings up unexpected things.

This particular day, Robin gave us a mantra to finish and to focus on while we were resting in Pigeon. She said to us, "Just finish this sentence: I am..."

I ran through a few words in my head to finish that sentence, and then suddenly, it hit me like a thunderbolt: I am changing.

It was so powerful a thought that I started to cry. And not just itty bitty sniffles. Big, fat, hot, wet tears streaming out of my eyes and down my cheeks.

Thankfully, I was bent over with my belly on the floor, so no one could see it.

But that's the idea in yoga: you surrender to the practice, to the pose, and it makes wonderful things happen for you.

You can't do a forward bend or Downward Facing Dog without some degree of surrender. You have to let your head hang loose, surrender to gravity to pull your body down. And it feels WONDERFUL to do that.

For me, surrendering to the pose, to gravity, means that I can surrender anything else that's bothering me. Any thoughts that come up during practice? Yep, there they are, and then I let them float away. Surrender.

Some days, it feels as though I'm being washed down a giant, peaceful river when I'm on the mat. No cares, no worries, no expectations. I just am.

In a world where we are increasingly made to feel that we need to control everything that goes on around us, putting ourselves in a place of surrender can have an amazing power to heal.

It's a paradox - while it makes you realize how powerless you are, at the same time, it makes you understand how very powerful you can be. You CAN transform yourself, your life - if only you can surrender.


Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

That sounds wonderful. Good for you. <3

SaraBeth said...

I've read all 3 of your "Why I Love Yoga" posts, but this one resonated the most with me.

With all the years of dance that I have under my belt I've always felt strong, balanced, and flexible in my body, so physically yoga has always been easy for me.

Surrendering is where I struggled and stumbled in a big way.

For almost the first 2 years of my yoga journey I physically participated in savasana at the end of class, but I dismissed the idea of letting my mind go as completely foolish and impossible. I quietly laid there plotting, planning, and thinking. And when it came to my home practice I didn't even bother with it. Yoga was simply an exercise practice and nothing more.

But, after awhile my mind slowly, slowly, slowly, began to quiet down during class and I began to find myself ever so briefly slipping into this deliciously quiet space.

The first time it happened I was so amazed, but I also dismissed it as an anomaly. But the next week it happened again! And again! As an experiment I added savasana into my home practice, and you probably know by now what happened.

Now I can't imagine yoga without savasana; without that blissful surrender.