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Learning to surrender

Something I've been pondering recently is how much subtle impact a yoga practice can have on our thought patterns and habits.

At the forefront of this and the main topic I'll be talking about is our ability to step back, and our ability to accept an element of surrender.

In todays age, it almost feels we're constantly grasping for more, but what if we stopped reaching?

What would it feel like to be more accepting of what we have? would we feel more content with ourselves? With our environment? The cards we're dealt?

I will arguably and strongly agree with this. In a lot of cultures and traditions, we're asked to give up certain material things that hold value to us, almost as an act of detachment. In fact, attachment is a very recurring theme that pops up all over the place.

Yoga holds this quite firmly within its framework also - Aparigraha, non-attachment, or non grasping, is one of the Yamas within Patanjalis yoga sutras.

(I've also wrote a blog post about this before, as linked above but as always I may return to it).

This grasping, and constant yearning for more holds a lot of different interpretations. For instance, in a modern sense, not buying more than we need, eating moderately and not over indulging could be included in this. As well as not grasping for what others might have, this could for sure include comparing ourselves to others and wanting what they have.

You can see how working with this idea of non attachment and grasping could be beneficial, but how does it tie into this idea of surrendering you might ask.

Well, when we come to yoga, we're embodying some of these principles through physical action without even realising it. This embodiment is a fantastic way to compare and feel into some of these principles and understandings before understanding the theory behind it. I believe this is why Asana practice is so integral to our journey into yoga.

When we practice Asana, we discover new edges, and try to gentle push against them without going too far. If we go too far, just with any exercise or movement modality, we may incur an injury or be put off by the challenge of it. So, we have to surrender a little bit to our own capacity.

Within the context of Yin, this is one of the main principles we have to follow. We discover our edge within a posture, and then return slightly from it, leaving some depth and space. We're then asked to stay within that space, within that tension and within any friction that this "surrendering" might cause.

We aren't just surrendering to this space or this pose, but also each individual second that we're held here. We feel through the support we're offered by the props, by our bodies, by our breath, and we at last, we can allow ourselves to stop striving for more. To just accept where we are at and surrender to the multitude of sensations and experience that are available within this space.

I probably drone on and on about this, but there is so much to be found when we stop searching, when we strop grasping for more and striving. When we stop forcing ourselves to take on more responsibilities at work, or try too hard to meet everyone else's needs and societal requirements. When we actually stop and pose within a posture at yoga, this could be an opening up to a whole new world of stepping back, feeling what's arising, and readjusting to how you want to go forward.

For me, I've always been a people pleaser, and within yoga, I've always strived for more. For more "depth" within a position, which Is a term I grossly misunderstood. I thought of depth as quite simply, more. More difficulty, more tension, a deeper stretch. I injured myself several times, pushed beyond my limits, didn't listen to my body, and still would do the same again.. but just with a gentler approach. Along with all the injuries, Yin has majorly flipped this on its head for me.

This surrendering wasn't something I knew of. Yes, it had been taught to me and explained, but the embodiment came from really surrendering to the position I was in and staying there. This let me develop a deeper understanding of what depth meant. A depth of deeper internal awareness and sensation while treating my body appropriately and with a sense of compassion.

By stepping back within myself and allowing this space. A lot more space began to emerge outwith a yoga studio. I began to say no to thing I didn't want to do. I began to listen more deeply to how my body reacted to things, and leaned more into what these sensations were telling me about what was being asked of me. I strived more only for a deeper sense of balance.

You can see how much can be taken away from a yoga practice when you start to embody it and feel it much more viscerally. This is why its important to step back, surrender to what's available to you, and be open to the space that it holds.

It's a much different thing to look at this version of surrendering as linked to non-attachment, as non-attachment can be much more interpreted in a material sense. With the things we own, or others own, and the things we want to own.

One thing I'd like to offer you with this post, is not to just encourage you to step back a little bit sometimes and surrender to the present, but also to ask yourself that crucial question.

Is this something that I want?

And even more crucially, why do I want it?

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