Ishvara Pranidhana- surrender

Every month, WE highlights a specific virtue from the yogic code of ethics, as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra, the most widely regarded text on yoga.  The tenth virtue in this 10-part blog series, and the theme for October at WE, is Ishvara Pranidhana- surrender.

“Through surrender the ego is effaced, and…grace…pours down upon him like a torrential rain.” – B. K. S. Iyengar

Ishvara Pranidhana, the fifth and final niyama, is arguably the most profound of the niyamas.  In fact, it has been said that if you’re able to master this niyama, there is no need to practice any of the others.

In Sanskrit, Ishvara means supreme (or personal) God.  Pranidhana means to devote or surrender.  We are called to surrender ourselves to the practice of recognizing and honoring the divine in EVERYTHING.

By practicing Ishvara Pranidhana, we are challenged to surrender every breath, every action, every word, and every thought into an act of devotion to the Divine.  This means moving beyond feelings of separateness toward a feeling of connection with all beings- human and nonhuman alike.

On the mat, this looks like practicing without attachment to the outcome. It also means devoting your entire practice to something bigger than yourself. All of your movements on the mat have the opportunity to serve and benefit all of life.

Off the mat, moving toward connection looks like cultivating a deep and trusting relationship with the created world, those who inhabit it, and the Creator. It means moving toward unity and connectedness in all things.

We are all bound by our shared humanity. We are all bound by God. We are all bound by our devotion to something bigger than ourselves.  Ishvara Pranidhana is the heartful practice that says, in my truest essence, I am connected to you in your truest essence; and in humility, I devote my life to you, to God, and to myself.


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