This is the 5th and final Niyama or yogic sutra observances. Many yogic sages claim that if you can master this Niyama – there is no other practice you need to do.
This niyama gets deeper into the universal energy or spiritual nature of yoga. If you have a particular religious practice, this is going to be much simpler for you to surrender to. If spirituality makes you squeamish – this may be a challenging pursuit.
Isvara Pranidhana is roughly translated as surrendering to a higher energy or being. If you have a particular god or spiritual guide, great! If not, I offer the concept of universal energy, natural world, or the Way. In essence, this last niyama is suggesting you surrender to the natural flow of the universe which is part of each and every one of us.
Yoga means union. Union of body, mind and soul. However, it goes further to help us see the unity of humanity, the unity of earthlings, the unity of all parts of the natural and manmade world. So when we surrender to the universe, we surrender to our deepest self. We honor our deepest self.
Surrendering is often expressed as a sign of weakness, but in reality, it is learning to honor what your deeper self needs. Think about the last time you had an instinct to go for a walk after dinner, but instead you convinced yourself it would be so much easier to just sit on the couch. Or maybe the opposite happened, and during a workout or yoga class – you ignored the whisper to slow down or do less and you ended up more agitated, worn out, or even injured!
Isvara Pranidhana is part of yoga because we often try to think our way through every problem that arises….or every problem that we create in our heads. What if we listened to our intuition a little bit more? What if you listened to those gentle whispers without judgement and simply surrendered and let go? Does it seem too easy? Awesome – embrace it! Many things in yoga don’t come easily, and honestly to begin to ignore the ego and embrace the intuitive guide – is anything but easy (at least for me!).
Let me give you a recent example from my life. I have a morning routine that has been pretty stable. Exercise, meditation, hydration, etc. And then, I became pregnant….and as many of you know, that first trimester can be extremely challenging! I was extremely fatigued, my sleep was off, my entire rhythm was off, and there were some days when the nausea was simply overwhelming. I was not enjoying pregnancy so far. It had already dramatically changed my life – and I didn’t even have a diaper to change yet!
As you read this, I hope you can see how much I was fighting myself. How much more suffering I was creating for myself and the child growing inside of me (I still can’t believe it works like this – isn’t life amazing?!).
Anyway – carrying on….
Sitting mediation was particularly hard and I stopped doing it for about a week (or two)….and unfortunately other parts of my life suffered as a result. So…I listened to my body and figured out how to cease the unnecessary struggles. I decided to be less stringent with my alarm clock and I slept in a little bit later. And one of the easiest changes that dramatically shifted my capacity for continued meditation, was I stopped sitting for meditation. If I was feeling nauseated, I supported myself in a child’s pose. It was lovely. I started doing it this way all the time, even if I wasn’t feeling terribly nauseated. It was much more supportive, calm, peaceful and effortless.
Effortless is the key word. I wanted to be there in that pose with myself and my growing child. It was amazing.
I chose ease. You can too. But real ease and surrender sometimes means getting up off the couch and moving 🙂
Where can you let go and surrender in your life?
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