What does it mean to truly surrender? By some definition surrendering actually means giving over to one's enemy or opponent and submit. Submit to an authority that is not your own. Someone else's authority. This can be so hard. And what then does it mean to "surrender' on your mat in a yoga class? A practitioner may hear the phrase "surrender" or "let go" from their yoga guide. Let's dive in to this phrase a little because like many things in life the topic can be exhaustive in meaning but is always worth considering. A caveat is that surrendering can be different for individuals from others walks and paths in this life than your own. In other words, there are levels to surrendering. and my surrender may not look like your surrender.
The work of surrendering...
Most of us go to a yoga class with some expectation of what we think will occur. One form of surrender for the practitioner means holding loosely to their own ideas of how the class is going to be or "should' be and be fully present to what the class is. Letting the class unfold for them with a sense of openness and maybe even wonder. I often encourage practitioners to "let go of their expectations of the class" and just go with the experience of breathing and moving the body. To just observe what comes up for them...perhaps within the physical body, or the mental/emotional body and/or the spiritual body.
In this case, you are surrendering your ideas and maybe even desires, trusting someone whom you may not know very well, and being open to the experience in real time...with presence. This is such a Healing approach. Why? Because we are hard wired to try and control most of our experiences out of a sense of safety. If we know what to expect we can control the situation such that we do not experience things such as pain or discomfort or change. And yet life is so ambiguous. Most things are not really in our control. Learning to let go where we can of expectations and relax into situations that are unknown,,, a "letting go" or "surrender" if you will actually helps us build exactly the resilience we need to weather certain storms in life that visit all of us at some time or another. Because in reality there is very little outside of ourselves that we can control. And the answer to handling this intelligently and with grace is to learn to surrender.
The next time you go to a new class or teacher, or you experience a sub for your favorite teacher or your favorite teacher throws in a "monkey wrench" to the usual practice...stay open...surrender. Without judgment. Just observe and be present.
Yoga is a safe place to practice the art and work of surrender. One way is to stay open to the experience, letting go of the form one may feel it needs or should take.
Referencing back to the definition of surrender, does this mean the yoga experience is the enemy? Perhaps not in the sense of clear and present danger like in a war. And yet, with our egos many things can feel like an enemy. More on this in the next blog.
For now work with the idea of surrendering to the experience of the practice.