Learning to surrender in your yoga practice is one of the greatest keys to experiencing the benefits we all hope to gain: flexibility, inner-peace, connectedness, healing and deep relaxation.
To me, “surrender” means that state where we stop trying to control things; we’re not thinking, pushing, pulling or creating. It’s the state where we are melting, merging with the source of oneness and deep peace. When we are in this state, we allow the highest levels of prana (energy) to enter our own energy systems and body, tapping into healing rejuvenating energies. In this state our ego is surrendered: we have entered the state of the ‘no-self.’
When it comes to our asana practice, some poses allow us to learn how to surrender with greater ease than others; these are the poses we can melt into, those that fall into the category of “Yin poses.” Yin poses are those that are relaxing—we can sink into them and easily hold for longer periods of time. Yin poses focus on gently stretching and opening the body.
Yoga is meant to create union with our body and soul. Lets look at how we can obtain this through surrender.
First, what is it that blocks us from being connected body/mind/soul? What gets in our way? What must we surrender to enter the natural state of enlightenment?
Body: When we release energy blockages—our attachment to the pain, tension and control patterns we hold in our body—we find deeper surrender.
Mind: When we are thinking, projecting or lost in past and future, we prevent the state of surrender from arising.
Ego-self: Sometimes the ego is afraid to let go of control, afraid to direct the process of surrender, afraid of spirit, afraid of what might happen if it loses control.
All three of these aspects of our being are intimately connected and can be trained to surrender. Once we learn this it becomes easy; we move into this state naturally.
Here’s a suggestion one pose to work with surrendering, and simple steps to training body/mind/ego:
Extended child’s pose:
Begin by sitting on your heels with your knees together. Now stretch your arms out in front of you placing your palms on your mat as you bend from the hips, keeping your back straight. Lower your forehead to the ground, placing your buttocks on your heels.
As you sink into child’s pose, lay your forehead gently on the earth. Feel your third eye area (the center of your forehead) sink naturally into the earth, as vitality begins to flow here. Bring your arms back toward your heels, palms face upwards and relax the hands and fingers.
Do a body scan.
Use your gentle in and out yogic rhythmic breath to sink deeper into the pose. Breathe in and out through your nose, allow your mouth and tongue to be completely relaxed. Fill your lungs from top to bottom, try to breathe all the way into your abdomen, and release the breath from the abdomen up. Relax deeper with each breath.
Breathe in. Relax your shoulders, let them sink towards the earth. Exhaling, let go of more tension. Feel the gentle curve of your neck, your spine. Breathe in and out relaxation, letting go, surrendering all tension. Relax your sacrum and your tailbone. Sink deeper; relax your abdomen, your lets, your feet, and your toes.
Now continue to use your breath to keep the body relaxed, sinking deeper and deeper, healing the body, the organs with each breath. Let the earth hold the weight of your entire body.
Use the breath to surrender the mind—when the mind begins to wander to thoughts or perception, just notice what it is doing. Release it into your breath. Concentrate on in the in and out flow, on feeling the body, while you enter more and more the state of quietude of mind. Sink deeper into this peace.
Bring awareness to intention.
Offer the following prayer: “I surrender my body/mind/ego to my soul, my higher-self, universal oneness.”
Breathe deeply and pray: “May my body be filled with energy, may my mind be free and peaceful. May I be at one with my soul.”
As you sink deeper into the breath, simplify your prayer: “May I surrender.”
Breathe deeper: “Surrender, surrender, surrender.”
Stay with this practice for at least five minutes; try to work up to ten minutes or even longer. When you are complete, lay down on your back in savansana or sit in meditation posture and notice how you feel for a few moments before coming out of your practice.
Enjoy and Namaste!
Lotus Jade: I’ve been teaching Hatha/Vinyasa and restorative yoga and pranayama for over 15 years; offering yoga retreats around the world, primarily in Hawaii, often including swimming with dolphins! I’m passionate about sharing all aspects of yoga practice including asana, to philosophy, and pranayama. www.yogaanddolphinjourneys.com email: [email protected]
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Assist: Sara Crolick
Ed: Brianna Bemel