To be alive is to be in relationship. Each of us is in relationship with other people, the environment, our surroundings, and with our self. Our bodies are the complex result of trillions of relationships among individual cells. Before we were born we were in relationship with the earth, feeling gravity and its pull. The sciences—biology, ecology, psychology, sociology, etc—are the study of relationship, how one thing relates to and effects something else.
Yoga is an invitation to embody the exploration of relationship. While being in relationship is a natural part of being alive, the quality of our engagement is a choice. We can choose to be passive, allowing the world to float by. We can choose to be forceful, using the strength of our will to create or move toward what we desire. Tantra teaches that true Yoga exists between these extremes, not a passive collapse or a forceful effort, but the yield that underlies all movement.
To yield is to become actively receptive to our environment and our own intrinsic mysteries of embodiment. In asana we can approach it as an active relationship with the earth; we soften and yield our weight into the earth so that we may then push and reach out in any direction. We can find it in the breath, where the yield supports the full action of the respiratory cycle. We can also yield in our personal lives, meeting others with the active receptivity that allows the moment to be fully experienced.
The primary action of the practice is a yield to Source, beginning with the individual, a softening to our own experience of embodiment and unique qualities that allows a receptivity of the divine essence that unites us all. The action of yielding to the self and allowing an awareness of Source supports the discerning quality of the mind; Yoga requires that we stay continually alert, aware of the power and responsibility of our perceptions, choices, and actions. At times it is necessary to soften more deeply and allow the experience to flow. At other times it is necessary to use our discrimination and desire to move through barriers. Our practice is to explore both actions fully, understanding that they do not work in opposition to each other, but rather in concert together by creating a more expansive experience, just like the expanding, condensing and yielding qualities that are present in each breath. By maintaining consistent awareness through the yield to the self and our inherent desire to relate we can move intelligently through both asana and life.
To yield is to become present, choosing to create an active and receptive engagement in the exploration of embodiment.