About three years ago, I was living in Montreal, Canada for a semester. While I was there, I got really involved in a yoga studio that was a few blocks away from my house. At the time, I had never lived in a city before, I had only ever lived in small towns. Living in the big city of Montreal was kind of overwhelming, and having a home yoga studio was a way to make the big city smaller.
Soon enough the studio started a “30 Day Challenge,” which encouraged participants to practice yoga everyday for thirty days. I had never done such a challenge, and I was eager to sign up.
About a week into the challenge, I was continuing other forms of exercise on top of the daily yoga practice. I was going to spin and Pilates classes, and running in the mornings whenever I could. Without a rest day to recover, I was exhausted. The studio sent out an email checking in about the challenge, and mentioned a “Yin” class that was a really good option if you were feeling sore. Yin yoga is a much slower practice that involves holding stretching poses for a long time. It’s a deep juicy practice that is very meditative, and focuses more on the ease and release of poses rather than pushing through.
The practice is about ease and surrender. Letting go of the need to apply effort, and simply allowing gravity and your body to do the work of release.
I’ve come to adore the Yin practice, and feel it is the most indulgent type of yoga class to go to.
The reason yoga is so important in my life, is that the practice translates into all other areas. It’s never really just been about exercising.
The practice of yin, specifically, has taught me a lot about myself. It’s taught me the importance of slowing down, of allowing, and the importance of receiving.
I think the fact that the Yin practice feels so indulgent to me speaks profoundly of myself and the culture we live in. We praise work, effort, and pushing through the pain. All of this can be really great and necessary, and obviously I believe discomfort is a great means of change. However, I also believe in balance.
In yoga we work with the concept of effort and ease. The ability to find both in every pose, whether you are holding Warrior II longer than you want, or settling into a deep juicy pigeon, you are encouraged to find both effort and ease in the pose. I think that balance can and should also be found in life.
Surrender is a concept I also have had a hard time with, as I have prided myself on my independence ever since I was small. It’s an identity I have clung to, and one that has allowed me to grow and take care of myself. However, as with anything, I can get over-attached.
In those moments when I feel like I can’t ask for help, or I have to constantly pull myself up by my bootstraps, those are the moments when I need to take a step back.
Surrender, allowing, and trusting that there is a power greater than myself which is guiding and supporting me feels really scary. However, I know it’s there and it’s in constant motion, and the only way to connect to that sense of guidance is to tear down my independent walls, and allow myself to be supported. More often than not, when I let go and trust, that’s when the real magic happens.
What does surrender mean to you?