Mindful awareness

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Surrender to find Peace and Stillness

Life is full of beauty and joy. But it also is filled with challenge and struggle. This week I have invited my yoga students to find a still peace by surrendering their struggle. I’ve asked them to evoke an issue against which they have been struggling. It can be as great as grieving a loss of a job or loved one. It can be a crazy end of year schedule. It can be a personal characteristic such as striving for perfection or a need to be accepted. We all struggle and we all can benefit by surrendering.

Whatever the personal struggle, a decision to surrender can support a more peaceful state that puts us more at ease. This is a conscious effort to let go of the struggle. Yoga asana (poses) practice can help find this peaceful state and hip openers are just about the best category of poses to teach surrender. So that’s what we did. Ninety minutes of forward folds and hip openers from prasarita padottanasana (standing wide angle pose) and janu sirsasana (head to knee forward fold) to eka pada rajakapotasana (pigeon pose) and gomukhasana (cow face pose).

Gomukhasana is a particular struggle for most people. Sitting with one knee stacked on top of the other requires that the pelvis, hips, and groins open and relax. We prepared for this pose with the other hip openers, but settling into gomukhasana is usually a struggle even at the end of the practice. Many students feel the muscles around their hips and groins tighten, resisting the stretch. The resistance represents a struggle that prevents a sense of ease in the posture. By following a long, rhythmic breath, my students were able to find an easier stillness in the hips and groins and even a deeper expression of the pose as their hips released the resistance and relaxed. They learned on the mat that being present with the breath can melt the resistance, release the struggle, and create peace and stillness with each exhale.

Now their challenge is to bring this technique with them off the mat as they go back to their lives of love, loss, stress, and struggle. The tools they need are available to them – breathe deeply and rhythmically, surrendering the struggle. They just need to remain present with the struggle long enough to release it and find the peace and stillness.

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