Letting go of control

This week we unearth the last of the niyamas, Ishvara Pranidhana, otherwise known as surrender. The practice of surrender reminds us to let go of what we can’t change, which in turn opens one up to greater possibility.

Many of you are probably familiar with the wheel of control model. While we can’t control everything, we do have control over things like our words, actions, and behavior. Generally, what we don’t have control over (no matter how much we would like to) is the words, actions and behaviors of others. Ultimately, this guideline invites us to surrender our egos, open our hearts, and engage in life with integrity. As we begin to stop fighting what is not under our control, we can begin to act more skillfully in our interactions with others.

An effective way of bringing awareness to where you seek control and where you are able to surrender is noticing moments of contraction and expansion. Control makes us rigid, and narrows our outlook. In contrast, surrender invites ease in the body and expands our vision. We are able to take off our armor and feel lighter for doing so. Expansion allows us to approach our relationships with life and others from a place of openness and curiosity.

Learning to surrender is a learned skill, which takes practice. Often compared to surfing, one must learn to skillfully ride the wave, aka the moment life presents. Can you challenge yourself to enjoy the process whether gliding through safely or falling off the board?

Over the next week or two, I invite you to notice any tension that arises in your body when you need the moment to be “your way.” Consciously choose to relax your body and shift our attitude to curiosity. Notice what happens.

This wraps up our exploration of the yoga philosophies of yamas (disciplines) and niyamas (personal practices). My hope is that you are taking away as strategy or two to add to your self-care toolbox. The tradition of yoga invites us to “live our yoga” both on and off the mat.