Relax…nothing is under control

When things get out of control, sometimes surrendering to the temptation of the chocolate box might be the right thing to do! By Victoria Jackson

I had a chocolate the other day — or it might have been two. It (or maybe they!) was not just any old chocolate. It was the expensive sort where you get a small number of treats delightfully presented in a fancy box. The whole experience felt very decadent, but because they were dairy-free they were perhaps actually more virtuous than any other chocolate.

In fact, these chocolates were so virtuous that they offered me a life lesson alongside a burst of chocolatey yumminess. There was a little card inside the box with a message on it. It said: ‘Relax — nothing is under control’.

I practically choked on my chocolate when I read this. I love things being under control! It’s how I get through my days. I live with the illusion that I’m making all the choices, I’m calling the shots, I’m the one in control.

Of course, I know it’s not quite that simple; the coronavirus pandemic has taught us all that. This microscopic virus caused total mayhem for the whole human race. Unless you’ve been living as a hermit in a remote cave these past two years, I challenge anyone to emerge unchastened by the experience of lockdowns, social distancing and vaccinations. Even my control-freak tendencies and my advanced skills in organisation and planning have been no match for this situation.

But even without a pandemic, although I might like to pretend my life runs on rails, yoga is always there to teach me otherwise.

It’s not just that trying to learn a challenging asana throws up surprises; it’s not even that teaching yoga is always a lesson in ‘expect the unexpected’. On a deeper level, yoga is all about letting go of the control.

If I translate the message in the chocolate box into yoga philosophy terms, I come up with Isvara Pranidhana. This can be one of the trickiest concepts for many western yoga practitioners — second only to Brahmacarya (celibacy) perhaps!

Isvara Pranidhana is often translated as Surrender to God. I interpret this for my own understanding as surrendering to the unknown or to the great mystery of life, in a word — faith. What is faith? It is learning to live with uncertainty, to accept (if not quite embrace!) the idea that nothing is under control.

As I contemplated these ideas, my hand might have strayed again into the chocolate box for a second (or is it now a third?) chocolate treat. Faith is hungry work. I surrendered to the need for some extra calories to help me along the way!

Victoria Jackson lives and teaches yoga in Oxford. Visit: or find her on Instagram @victoriajacksonyoga

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