January 17, 2022
The Practice of Surrender
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes the eight limbs of yoga. They flow from the external to the internal, through the mind and through the body, until we reach the eighth limb, Samadhi, translated as union or integration.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the second limb recently, the Niyamas, or internal observances. In particular, one of the most profound spiritual elements of yoga is Patanjali’s final Niyama: the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana, or “devotion to God.”
Ishvara translates as Supreme Being, God or True Self, while Pranidhana is generally interpreted as “surrender,” “devote” or “be supported by.” So while the term ‘God’ can be a loaded one, Ishvara Pranidhana is really about surrendering to the Divine, Oneness, the collective consciousness, or even a yogi’s personal deity.
The core of Ishvara Pranidhana is about approaching our practice as an offering we lay at the feet of the Divine, surrendering our intentions, our love and our journeys to a higher power. Even our smallest actions, on or off the mat, are a devotion to something bigger than us. This simple act of dedicating ourselves and our actions to the Universe is a constant reminder of our intimate connection with the Sacred.
Surrendering to the Divine is about releasing our attempts to control the flow of energy, the flow of life; it’s about releasing our attachment to our expectations. When we surrender our actions and intentions as offerings to a higher power, they become part of something bigger than us.
In surrendering to the Sacred, we trust that we are always being provided with what we need to help us grow, and then we offer that growth back to the Source.
In this way, practicing Ishvara Pranidhana helps us to cultivate a deep and trusting relationship with the Sacred that will light us up from the inside out.
Below are some recommended classes to help with this concept of surrender: