Yoga Teaches Surrender

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BY: TRISHA CURLING 

“Life wants to surprise, delight, and grow us in ways far beyond our imagination.” (Adele, Deborah The Yamas & Niyamas pg. 166). This can be very hard to believe sometimes. This can be very, very hard to believe sometimes. Did I mention how very hard this can be to believe sometimes? Things can happen in life that can definitely throw us for a loop and attempt to take us off of our path. It can be as “insignificant” as not getting the pair of pants we like because they don’t have our size or not getting the job offer we wanted. It can also be serious tragedy or illness that may make us angry and make us feel like life is against us.

Surrender (or the Sanskrit – Ishvara Pranidhana) is part of one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga (Niyama). As always, we can approach Surrender within the Limb of Asana (yoga postures), but more than the physical it can be a challenge in our lives outside of our physical yoga practice. It is, however, all about perspective and being mindful to remember that we have the choice to be carried to the other side of an experience with more strength and knowledge, which is also potentially preparing us for something else.  Easier said than done, I know. This is easy when things are going well and going our way. In a way, our ego is being satisfied, but when it’s not, we can get frustrated by not seeing the bigger picture. Just like working through poses in the body, this mental work requires attention and care too.

Surrender requires ease, detachment from ego and quiet. The Niyama, Ishvara Pranidhana wants to show us that if we trust in life, the universe, God, whatever your belief system is, it wants us to succeed and support the path we are meant to take.

Different yoga postures can be a pathway to this understanding. Adele talks about Shavasana as being a wonderful gateway. In this posture, on our backs, legs and arms out at an angle while we simply breathe, providing us an opportunity to silence our minds, to let go of expectations and tension (physical and mental). Taking this sensation off of the mat is where we can really meet life’s expectations.

I know that I feel this truth the most when opportunities come my way for various reasons. When tragedy strikes, this is where I have to dig the deepest to remember that things don’t always turn out the way we planned, but that each challenge I have faced in my life has still brought me forward.  I overcame it and I can do it again. Sometimes I have to tell myself some version of this many times per day, other times it’s reaching out to my support systems (friends or family) that will remind me of this in my darkest moments.

Ultimately, the truth is, life is there for us. If we do our best to maintain an attitude that is grateful and a perspective that we can handle anything and come out on top, life will continue to reward us. It’s a series of lessons positive and negative that carry us forward into the next experience.  Surrendering to life is loving life. 

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