“Inhale and exhale. Let that shit go…”
If you are anything like me, you love to be in control. You find it frustrating when plans change. It's hard to sometimes just go with the flow. It's difficult to let go of an outcome that you have worked so hard for and just be.
If I am honest, I have heard the term surrender many times in a yoga class over the years and in the past have not understood its true meaning. What does it actually mean to surrender in yoga and meditation. How can I apply the concept of surrender to my life?
The practise of surrender is called Ishvara Pranidhara in Sanskrit. It means to surrender or devote oneself to a god or supreme being. Now, given that I am not a religious person, the idea of devoting myself to god does not resonate with me. So I brushed over this concept until more recently when I really started to understand what surrender is all about. I have practise surrender more often in my meditations and find a sense of peace letting go of the illusion of control.
How to surrender in your yoga practice.
Many people do not attend a yoga class because they think they are not flexible or strong enough. They see crazy poses in Instagram and believe that they need to do a headstand or the splits to practise yoga. In fact, the opposite is true. Flexibility and strength are a by-products of a regular yoga practice, but they is not the end goal. When you are practising asana, let go of the idea that the pose needs to look perfect and understand that it is the journey to achieve the pose (although you may never get there) that is that important part. Along the way, you will build strength and flexibility, discipline and learn to approach a challenge pose with a sense of ease. Sometimes, when we face a challenge and overthink, it becomes more difficult to achieve the outcome. When we stop pushing so much, our yoga practise flows. If you find yourself become frustrated during your practise, remember to breathe and become present in the moment. Notice how the pose makes you feel. Enjoy the feeling of stretching or strengthening, knowing that you have committed to yourself and your practise just by getting on the mat.
How to surrender in meditation.
True meditation is very difficult to achieve because it is effortless. However, for many of us, it is difficult to calm the monkey mind. Understand that there will be days that are more difficult than others. The key is to be consistent and with practise you will improve. When we go to bed, we ‘surrender’ to sleep. If we overthink it, we often have difficulty falling asleep. Similarly, if we try too hard to clear the mind and meditate, it will not happen. We will become frustrated because we are so fixated on the idea of how meditation should look and feel. Instead, surrender to the idea that thoughts wills come and go. Some days you will get distracted, others days you will be able to immerse yourself in the process. Using a point of focus, such as the breath, can allow you to be in the present moment and thus, allowing the effort to dissipate.
For more tips on how to meditate click here.
How to surrender in life.
Often, the way we approach yoga and meditation is the way we approach life. Notice where your mind goes during a challenging pose. Is this how you approach challenges in life? Do you let the ego take control in a class and compete against others in the room? Do you find it hard to meditate every day because you never allow enough time for self-care? Do you judge yourself on the mat if you find it difficult to meditate or cannot do a yoga pose? During my recent meditations, my mantra has been to just simply ‘let it go’. With every exhalation, I allow myself to release the illusion of control I have in my life and build trust in myself and the universe, knowing that whatever the outcome, I will be ok.
Don’t confuse surrender with being lazy or not chasing dreams or goals. It is more about letting go if the things that we cannot control. Letting go of the idea that everything should turn out exactly as planned. Not being attached to a particular outcome and flowing through life with a sense of peace.
If you would like to learn more about how to surrender join one of our upcoming retreats.