Surrendering to Your Body

In my last article, I looked at how you can let your body move without consciously willing it—and how this can lead to richer movement sessions. Today, I’ll explore how to surrender and let that subconscious, body-based intelligence take control.

But first, let me address the “me” versus “my body” problem. Who exactly am “I” surrendering to? How do I talk about this distinct part of myself without sounding like I have multiple personalities? It’s all me. But it’s different parts of me—often with very different agendas and ideas. So, while I know there’s no me without my body, I have to distinguish between them to write about this. Which, I know, makes it a little weird.

So, to quickly recap…

My morning practice involves putting down a yoga mat and inviting my body to move. Then I wait and listen. I’m tracking my body sensations, noticing when an impulse to move builds, and trying to stay out of the way of the movement.

How “I” interfere

It’s the staying out of the way part that’s tricky. Below are the most common challenges to be mindful of:

Oh, this is what you’re doing. In this pitfall, I think I know what my body’s up to. Let’s say my arm sweeps over my head and I think, “Aha, a side bend!” Then it’s easy to subtly take over the movement, thinking I know where my body’s headed. Now I’m directing rather than witnessing.

Hold it, hold it…. What starts as a nice, body-initiated stretch, can turn into me holding that position—no matter how subtly—determined to “make” some muscle release.

Getting impatient. Sometimes my body pauses to rest and I’m waiting…and waiting. If I get impatient, then rather than wait for a movement, I imagine I feel an impulse and force a move, telling myself it was spontaneous.

Oh, I hope it will…. This one is less invasive and starts as a wish: “I hope we stretch the hamstrings.”  Then maybe 10 minutes later, my body may oblige. This can be a nice dialogue with yourself—if you’re not attached to outcome—or it can be a subtle way of imposing your will.

What should I have for dinner? Here, instead of being too involved, I’m absent. My mind’s wandered off and I’m no longer present with my body. So I’m moving, but I’m not aware. Or the body intelligence simply disengages too, so movement sputters out.

As you practice, notice whether you’re witnessing, conversing, taking over, or absent. And if you’ve left or taken over, how much more might you learn if you witnessed?

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