“Surrender your strength to the Goddess, Nianna. You don’t have to do it all yourself,” I heard my teacher say to me while I was in my perfect warrior II pose. Up until that point, I hadn’t considered the fact that there might be a power stronger then my own that could hold me up better then I could.
Growing up in Los Angeles creates a certain type of creature. I was tough and I had to be. I wore a thick armor of protection. I was strong and I could take care of myself. I didn’t need anyone or anything, or so I chose to believe. When I was young, I ran with gangs and was part of a tagging crew called ACQ, aka “All City Queens.” We thought we were badass. We kind of were. We did all the things bad kids do. I hung out on the streets at night with kids who were mean, angry and just wanted to get wasted and cause trouble. Often I was the one that would lead the mischief. How else would I get the name “Traviesa”? If you weren’t strong out there on the block, you were eaten alive. I learned to be strong, run fast, hit hard and protect myself and my homies.
When yoga found me at 18, it set me on a new path and at 22, I committed an entire year solely to my healing process. Yet, it wasn’t until 6 years into my yoga journey that I began to surrender my strength to a power greater then my own. Up until that point I thought I was, but on a more intimate level I was not. I was still propping myself up with my ego, which still can happen from time to time. But what I learned that day when my teacher suggested I “give it to the Goddess” changed my body, mind and practice forever. I stopped using shear will and grunt determination (which my be useful at times) and started letting myself be held, protected and even loved from a higher source and it made everything easier. Where before I would struggle, I learned eventually to relax into the unseen support that was all around me and tapped into a deeper strength. I surrendered.
Over the past 4 years I have been cultivating a workshop I call “Strength & Surrender.” I have gathered my years of experience in vinyasa yoga, yin yoga, pranayam, kriya and meditation to create a practice that is balanced in its approach. I use certain practices to illustrate the power of both strength and surrender and the importance of knowing when to do what. The power of opposites is mirrored in our heartbeat and breath, through the contraction and expansion, the rise and fall, the embracing and letting go.
It is a powerful mixture of all that I love about yoga. The sweaty flow that brings me into deep focus and requires determination and discipline, the deep exhale of yin yoga that is cooling and grounding and requires my fullest expression of peaceful surrender, breath work and the inner microcosm that reflects the macrocosm of opposites as the sacred union of masculine and feminine within the hrid, the inner cave of the spiritual heart. My intention with my Stength & Surrender offering is to create ritual space, where students can be intimate with themselves in a loving and healing way that is empowering, inspiring and essential.
Join us for Strength & Surrender in Los Angeles August 23rd Saturday 2-4pm @ Exhale