There’s a quote that I heard at a yoga training I went to this September that’s been bouncing around my head for a while now.

Surrender in a way that gives you power.

There’s a tendency these days to assume that giving something up or taking the blame for something you did wrong makes you weak. I don’t  understand how weakness became such a negative term. For me, the difference between weakness and vulnerability is almost the same as the difference between pity and empathy. It’s a transfer of power. You do not have to walk around wearing armor, literally or figuratively, to be a strong person. You are allowed to be a strong person with vulnerable aspects. That’s called humanity.

I think what strikes me about this phrase is how applicable it is to everything. Yoga is, of course, especially relevant, not only because I was at a yoga retreat, but because this saying so perfectly reflects another popular yoga saying, “Find the place between ease and effort”.  It’s also potent because it allows us to differentiate between surrender as empowering and giving up as disempowering. Surrender isn’t a giving up, it’s a softening and a deepening.

While practicing vinyasa, it is easy to over-effort or give up because it’s physically difficult. Yet the different between practicing yoga and just getting a workout lies in the ability to mentally surrender to poses that challenge us. Can you drop in and breathe fully in chair pose? Can you stand in warrior one without needing to fix your hair and see if you’re prettier than your neighbour?

Next time you’re in class, try to surrender fully to it. Limit the sweat wipe downs and the water bottle chugs, breath like you mean it, and really set your gaze. It’s true, vinyasa is really hard, but if you surrender to it, the practice can give you power. You can surrender powerfully even in child’s pose, even in a modification, if you surrender with honesty. Because, let’s face it, if you’re dropping out in the middle of class just because it’s hard, you’re not surrendering, you’re giving up. And that doesn’t give anyone power.

One comment

  1. Jennifer Elise

    I love this post! I was just thinking about this on my drive home. Parsvottanasana always comes to mind when I think of strong surrender. You must have a strong base but you then must surrender the rest. You need to engage muscles in order to surrender, you need to be present. And in being present and engaged in our lives we are able to be vulnerable enough to surrender the small details, to surrender the outcomes.

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