I once read a quote that said “The strongest position you can be in is complete surrender.” I really had to sit with that one for a bit because everything about it seemed wrong to me. How can surrendering be a strong action? I busted out every yoga text and recovery book I had and sure enough, surrender is where it’s at. Surrendering has nothing to do with giving up or giving in. It has everything to do with letting go of the need to control everyone and everything around us. Come to find out, I have no control over people, places or things. AA 101. To surrender simply means to stop forcing things and start allowing. Allowing things to be as they are rather than the way I wish they would be. Life is so much easier when I can show up and flow with what is. It doesn’t mean that I allow life to happen to me. I create my life. I make well informed decisions from a place of wisdom, then I sit back and let the universe handle the rest. The things that are meant for me will always be for me. I never doubt that.
While this one seems like a no brainer, it isn’t. When I first began practicing yoga and the instructor would ask us to become aware of our breath I would panic. I would breathe short and shallow and feel like I was hyperventilating or that I couldn’t breathe at all. My thoughts would race as I struggled to breathe. “Really! How can I not know how to breathe?” It actually took a lot of practice (and a tattoo on my arm that says breathe) to get the hang of it. It was all about allowing. Again with the flowing and not forcing. Learning to surrender and allow my breath to be exactly as it was with no judgment. From this place, I was able slow my breath and for the first time in my life I learned how to breathe deeply and fully. Deep, conscious breaths really are like sending little love notes to the soul. When I am feeling particularly stressed, my breath is my anchor. A place I can return to again and again. It’s like coming home to myself.
Again and again and then let go some more. I often hear the expression that “everything I’ve ever let go of had claw marks on it.” I am sure this was true of my life until that magical day I found yoga. First, yoga taught me to breathe out tension and stress. To let go of fear, doubt and worry. Then I learned to let go in poses and release years worth of stress and trauma that were stored in my body. Yoga taught me to let go of emotions. To open to them and feel all the feels. Sometimes this meant crying through class if that’s what I was feeling. Through living my yoga off the mat, I have been able to let go of so many things that are just too heavy to carry. Guilt. Shame. Resentments. All of the things that hold me back and keep my light from shining bright. I no longer cling to the things not meant for me. Sometimes, I pick them back up, because letting go is a practice, like everything we do. The most beautiful part of letting go is that it creates space. When we let go of what no longer serves us we create space for the things that inspire us. We create room for beauty and love to enter our lives.
One thing I repeatedly ask the Universe for is fearlessness. While the Universe doesn’t exactly make me fearless, it does give me enough courage to do the things I am scared of. As it turns out, that’s everything. There’s nothing quite as scary as hurling myself upside down those first few times. Or holding my body off the ground with just my arms. I am always slightly terrified I will break my face. But I am strong. Yoga reminds me of that every time I practice. Way stronger than I give myself credit for. I can do difficult things, on the mat as well as off. Yoga has given me the courage to live comfortably in the skin I am in. If I want something, I go for it. No holding back. Life is too short. I no longer seek approval from anyone. Who has time for that?
I saved the best for last. This is the big one. Yoga taught me how to love myself on so many levels. I learned how to forgive myself through the practice of letting go. I have learned to have compassion for myself and know that I have always been doing the best I could with what I had to work with. Yoga gave me a whole new set of tools to work with. Yoga taught me how to love and accept myself exactly as I am. Flaws and all. After years of abusing my body, I have learned to treat it like the temple it is. I no longer desire the things that aren’t good for me. I now crave the things that are good for me. I know how to nurture my mind, body and spirit. I feed my body well. I know how important rest is and I allow myself to get it. I surround myself with people who encourage me to be the best me. I encourage and support my friends. I offer love to myself every day and let it fill every cell in my body. By loving myself fully and completely, I am able to offer love to the world. I am forever grateful that yoga exists and that it found me.