Last week’s summer solstice got me thinking about strength and surrender. These two concepts seem to be opposites, but if we dig a little deeper, I think we’ll find them to be complements to each other. Like yin + yang.
Yin + Yang
The concept of yin + yang in Chinese Taoism philosophy says that two seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent.
According to Taoism, yin + yang are two halves that together complete wholeness. I believe this to be the case with strength and surrender.
Strength is the quality or state of being strong. To surrender is to cease resistance; to yield. Can we still be strong while yielding? Can we cease resistance without relinquishing strength? I believe so.
In fact, I think that surrender requires a certain kind of strength. A different kind of strength. One that is more quiet; more subdued. One that our society, quite frankly, devalues…deems less-than.
We value brute strength over soft strength. We value constant doing and pushing over recharging and replenishing. We value the masculine over the feminine; Shiva over Shakti.
The reality is that we need them both. We need to honor both and work on both.
Finding Balance to Bring About Change
To bring about change in our lives requires equal parts strength and surrender.
Strength to carry you through moments of adversity and challenge; to keep you going towards your desired goals when things get kind of shitty.
And when you’ve given what you can give; when you’ve done the best that you can do, surrender. Knowing that you’ve done the work to the best of your ability, cease resistance. Surrender the results of your actions to the Universe (or whatever higher power you believe in), knowing that it has your back.
In the yoga tradition, this concept of surrendering to the Universe is known as Ishvara Pranidhana, and as yogis, we strive to apply it both on the mat and off.
So I invite you to unify yin + yang on the mat with me. Work hard, break a sweat, build strength. And then surrender into some delicious hip openers and savasana.
As always, the goal is for this union of strength and surrender to seep off of your mat. As you go through your week, practice feeling for when it’s time to push through, and when it’s time to release.
Your body, mind, and soul will thank you.