When leading classes, yoga instructors often guide students toward “surrendering into a pose,” but what do we really mean? A lot of the focus on yoga, around the world, highlights the physical benefits available to its practitioners. Modern versions of vinyasa practice include an aerobic style of yoga that encourages challenging poses and cardiovascular fitness. Ancient forms of yoga, however, emphasized a balance between the spiritual, physical and inner (mental) practice.
This ability to balance internal and external energy is rooted in meditation, breathing techniques and the focus on the chakras, or energy centers. Yoga practitioners can utilize asanas and pranayama to access the chakras. Also, different poses and meditation techniques allow practitioners to concentrate on each of the seven energy centers. Synchronizing breathing with movements can also align energy channels to encourage release and relaxation.
Surrender is not an easy practice for anyone. People who are able to exercise some control over their lives struggle with this principle of letting go of fear, anxiety, stress and worry. But as a practitioner works through a yoga pose, holding it through balance, breathing and inner focus or meditation, it becomes easier to let go of these negative emotions.
Surrendering to a yoga posture might be an alienating experience at first. It takes practice and discipline to continue releasing energy and control whenever tension occurs. Experienced yogis know that an encounter with physical tension requires a focus on breathing and letting go. Persisting in this type of surrender will soon enable practitioners to release the tension of an entire day through a yoga session.
Although beginners might find it easier to surrender to a relaxation yoga pose like corpse, this is only half the battle. The internal and external balance that practitioners achieve in yoga also reflects a balance of contraction and release. Thus, learning how to surrender to the difficult, physically challenging poses is important, too. In discovering how to push through to deeper release even through external difficulties, yogis can achieve balance.
As individuals progress from beginner practice to regularly challenging themselves with more challenging asanas, it will take time for their bodies to respond with full relaxation. Because yoga’s physical practice is directly related to its philosophy about the inner life, yogis should approach a pose as an opportunity to work through life’s problems. When this is done, then practitioners can more fully realize the holistic benefits of surrender – a letting go of the inner struggle through a working out of physical struggle.