Surrendering the white flag—on the Mat.

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What do you picture when you hear the word surrender?

Do you see a sinking ship with a white flag on board? Perhaps you see a castle in ruin with a white flag flapping in the wind? Often when we hear about “surrender,” it is in relation to a party giving up—giving in to another party’s dominance and authority. It is the lesser of two evils when compared to complete annihilation.

When we step on a yoga mat, surrender is a blessing. We can let go of the need to control the outcome of the situation, along with the expectation of what an asana should and shouldn’t be.

It is just you and your breath, as you surrender to what is. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard—really hard.

I’ve clung to my mat in downward dog as if my life depended on it, refusing to let go. Hoping that someone—anyone—would come and save me, but knowing that the only person capable of saving me is myself. Tears welling up in my eyes, knowing I need to surrender, but finding myself unable to do so.

The salty tears sting my eyes and then betray me as they spill onto my face. My breath is not the smooth rhythm I’ve become accustomed to. This breath is unfamiliar—it’s jagged and hitched.

I’m getting tired. How long can we hang off the side of a cliff before we have to let go? My palms are getting slimy, making my grip on my Manduka mat even worse. I can tell this is the end—I’m going to fall.

I take a deep breath—way down into my very core—igniting the dying embers of my Agni. 

I close my eyes and let go.

It is everything I thought it would be—how sweet it is to free fall. To surrender and just-let-go. This is how we take back control of our lives—by letting go of the things we cannot control.

There are no white flags here—only love.

 

 

 

~

Author: Ashley Carter

Image: Instagram @ashleycarteryoga

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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Ashley Carter

Ashley Carter is a yoga instructor who believes in living each day with love, compassion and endless enthusiasm. She believes that each student can be guided to find their own individual path and that no two students are alike. Off the mat, she can be found cuddled up (she’s always cold) in a scarf or under a blanket, sipping chai or indulging in all things chocolate. Her passion for helping others spills over into her main career, which is forensic science. Her current project is helping set up the first forensic science lab in Nigeria.

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