What does surrendering feel like to you? I find that it’s often perceived as a weakness, like quitting or giving up on an important fight. The Oxford dictionary defines it as “to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” But what if the “enemy” or “opponent” is your best self or divine will or true peace? What if the struggle is against yourself and is motivated by fear of not being enough, anxiety about not trusting that the Universe has your back or underestimating your ability to adapt to change? Then, what would surrender look and feel like?
Let’s view this through the lens of physical yoga. For the first few years of my practice attending yoga classes, I would often mentally cringe when I realized that the next posture to be held for a while was revolved chair pose or Parivrtta Utkatasana in Sanksrit. I had an aversion to holding still for more than ten slow breaths in this belly-compressing pose, so I felt anxiety, like an 8-year old on the way to the dentist. My mind became turbulent, seeming to suffocate my ability to breathe deeply. Stillness in discomfort felt like torture. Oh, the inner drama my ego was creating, and thus, my body was experiencing!
Years later, practicing yoga alone each morning during a very challenging year living abroad, my physical postures, or asanas in Sanskrit, became a place to try out my courage, self-trust and faith that life was supporting me. I integrated the long holds of revolved chair pose, intentionally slowing down my breath. In my commitment to trust I was going to be okay, I surrendered the struggle. It was a struggle against acknowledging my own power, ironically. And I gradually felt liberated from my own aversion. I began to see how my self-created drama induced the resistance against my own well-being and peace of mind. When I just let go of fighting or resisting and accepted the situation, in this context, the pose, as it was and focused on breathing my way through it, my act of surrendering translated into self-empowerment. I could be just fine, not having to control the outcome of the situation. I understood that I was resilient and that no situation is permanent.
Parallel to and coinciding with that year in my life, I realized I perceived the challenges and discomforts of living humbly as a volunteer in a developing country with a very similar aversion. My ego had been clinging to the way I thought things should be as I was accustomed to back home, and I resisted change, which only brought me more suffering. As I applied my yoga discovery of surrendering to situations I could not control, I began allowing myself to see and gradually appreciate the beauty and blessings of the new landscape and culture I was immersed in. Not knowing what was next became an exciting adventure, at times. And my perspective was open to tasting a new way of living and being. My heart was open, and everything changed from there.
Living in Costa Rica, July 2009
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REviews of Root 2 Rise Yoga with Michelle chua:
Michelle truly lives out what she teaches. She is so much more than a yoga teacher - I learned this when I went on her exquisitely curated trip that she organized to Costa Rica this past June 2018...Hopefully like me, you'll be delighted by her effervescent love of movement, nature, and all people!
Michelle clearly stands out with her beautiful and bright energy. I love how her practice and teaching encompass body, mind and spirit. She not only teaches yoga but lives and exudes it.
Michelle not only teaches 'yoga', she embodies it fully with her heart and soul...
Michelle is by far one of the best instructors I've ever had, period. Patient, clear in her explanations and demos, and so encouraging...
My first yoga class was with Michelle years ago. You can have the best (yoga pose) sequence and not teach from your heart. With Michelle, I also feel her passion when I'm in her class. I can see she loves what she does, and she inspired me to want to teach yoga, too.
I'm so grateful to have met Michelle! Her kind energy opened up my interest in pursuing yoga and meditation. She is such an incredibly light and soul. She starts with grounding ourselves through mindfulness and breathing exercise. She brings the most authentic energy to the class by sharing the history and understanding behind poses, names, and techniques. I truly appreciate her work and impact on my well-being!
I’ve had dozens of instructors over the years, but Michelle is far and away the best yoga mentor I’ve ever practiced with. She epitomizes grace during these difficult times. Michelle has saved my sanity and my back while working from home, keeping me grounded with her sharing of yogic teachings and meditation techniques. Her repertoire of physical asanas is encyclopedic, and I’ve loved learning new poses and stretching my boundaries. Jump in, all. You’ve got this!
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