I've been reading a fantastic book called "Yoga Mind" by Suzan Colon. I recommend it highly- it's a really good introduction to the yogic journey. Suzan is a great writer who makes some really heavy concepts accessible through her writing and storytelling. One concept that she writes about really resonated with me- Ishvara Pranidhana. Suzan defines it as "Surrender of the ego in order to be guided by truth." Basically, it means releasing what no longer serves you, what you are attached to that doesn't nourish you, in order to move toward your true self. Which I'm all about!
I brought this concept into a recent class. In my dharma, I spoke about a great piece of wisdom my sister gave me long ago. Referring to my then most recent disastrous relationship, my sister said "You know that type you have? Lose it because it doesn't work for you anymore". And it was so revelatory because I wanted that man because he was what I thought I was supposed to want, because of who I thought I was. I've since applied this advice to many situations since- men, friends, jobs, outfits, you name it. It's a tough thing to surrender what you think you know about yourself, your 'type'. But often we get stuck into patterns of belief or behavior that don't serve who we are now. Maybe they served someone we used to be. Maybe we wish it will serve our future selves. But really, what feeds us now is the only thing that we can have any control over. That is our yoga. That is our truth. And that, as I see it, is the only way to your true self.
In my asana practice, surrender and release made me think of Garuda. In Garudansana (eagle pose), we bring everything tightly into our center, getting small and tight, and then we release it all, expanding and making room. Garudasana is a challenging pose, requiring balance and focus. I added what I refer to as "Flying Garuda" where you keep the eagle legs and unfurl your arms (wings) and open up the heart. To prepare for Garudasana, I began with a serious of hip openers and stretches, as well as some heart opening twists. Here is downward dog with eagle legs:
Begin from Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog), inhale the right leg, bend the knee to open the hip, moving it around. Straighten the leg, and exhale the knee to the nose, finding a rounding in the spine, similar to cat pose. As you travel the leg back, cross it over the left leg, in an eagle wrap. Try to keep the hips as level to one another as possible. Take a few breaths there, opening into that hip stretch. Inhale the leg back into 3 legged dog, and exhale the foot back to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
I also love the Garuda mudra. Bring your hands to your heart and cross the thumbs. Use this mudra as a reminder to let your heart free.