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Sweat poured as if someone had tipped a cup of warm water at my fingertips and let it follow the pathways down my aching arm. Little drips flew off me speckling my yoga mat as I rotated, gazed at my right arm in Parivrtta Parsvakonasana and tried to reclaim my breath. My mind raced to keep up with the quick directions our new teacher shot like arrows. Fffffftttttt! Another call nicked my ear as I hurried to keep up with the rest of the class.

What was happening? I’m a dedicated yoga student. I’m certainly not advanced, but I’m no beginner. Why am I dizzy when I reach samasthiti? Standing on my own two feet started to feel like a technically challenge pose. Instantly I became vengeful. I blamed the new instructor. I blamed everyone else for being more agile than me. I even blamed Amazon because they hadn’t delivered my Ashtanga DVD and THAT’S why I’m having trouble. Heaven help me, I even pointed the finger Baron Baptiste for creating such a grueling style of yoga. It was the longest twenty minutes of my life, and I knew I had an hour and ten minutes left. I had to make a choice.

Look inward… whispered in my ear as I wiped the sweat in Down Dog and nearly toppled over. Slowly I closed my eyes and found what I’d been resisting all along. Me. Nobody else was at the heart of my practice, except me. Either fight with myself for another hour or surrender.

What a foreign concept to someone like me, a junkyard dog who never ever lets go. Surrender? Throw in the towel. Are you kidding me? Let go? It goes against my nature was my first thought, but that’s not exactly true. When I reached a do-or-die moment in the last marathon I ran, I had my first glimpse of release.

“There’s a point when the body stops, and the spirit begins…”, Summer, my cousin and best friend, told me as she tore off her jacket to run me in to the finish line. It was true. As soon as the words left her lips I let go of what I was dragging behind me all those miles. Call it my ego or my expectations or my determination, I tossed it aside and instantly became lighter, and faster. When she tells the story, she mentions that I even began to smile. It changed me.

So when I lowered down after what seemed like the fortieth sunburst in class, I gave it all away. I emancipated all the tension and whispered yes. I won’t stop, I’ll never quit, but I won’t struggle with it anymore. For the first time in my life I truly quieted my mind and let it all flow. Electric shocks still sparked (I won’t say it was easy after that) but I stopped reacting to what hurt me. I became the silent observer.

In a serious state of bliss, post savasana, I thanked the instructor for such a powerful experience. His once rigid facial features were now soft and welcoming, he smiled and lifted his hands in prayer position to gesture his thanks. Surrender is a revelation for me. Maybe I’m that type of person who could read 10 books about letting go and still never buy in? Yesterday life forced my hand asking me if I was ready, and finally I was. It changed me and this time, I won’t forget.

I guess some of our most meaningful life lessons come in the most unexpected places. Yesterday it was my mat. Today the grocery store?

 

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