My teacher has been talking recently about the difference between effort and strain, surrender and collapse. The opposite of effort is surrender, and the opposite of strain is collapse. In Yoga, we are looking to exert the proper amount of effort so we can find surrender. If we are exerting so much effort that we enter into straining, all we will find is collapse. The difference between surrender and collapse is effort. Surrender is not passive; rather it is an active state of effort that takes us to surrender. Over-exertion results in collapse, or a complete breakdown. Collapse is passive.
Of course, in our Asana practice we are striving to achieve this balance. But, what happens when we take this practice off of the mat? Anytime we move our practice off of the mat and into our real lives is the most profound aspect of the practice. Real life is the reason to practice Yoga. So, how do we exert enough effort to find surrender in our real lives?
There is such a feeling of peace when you quit fighting what you can’t fight or control. To paraphrase a lesson my teacher recently shared, a tug of war only occurs when you pick up the other end of the rope. If you don’t pick up the rope, there is no fight; it’s just someone else holding a rope. When it comes to self-struggle, you are holding both ends of the rope. Drop one end… or maybe even both. How freeing is that? It is surrender if it is a conscious decision. Remember, surrender is not passive. It’s not simply giving up, but rather actively letting go. Let go of the struggle. Let go of the indecision. Let go of the chaos.
Freedom is our ultimate goal. Space in the physical, mental, energetic, and spiritual bodies will allow for this freedom. It takes effort, not strain, to create this space and surrender. Honor yourself by releasing and surrendering one thing, one thought, one attachment today…even if just for a moment.