Ishvara Pranidhana – (Surrender to Your Higher Self)
“Samadhi Siddhir Isvara Pranidhanat”
Through complete surrender (pranidhana) to God, we attain Samadhi (Bliss)
The fifth and final Niyama is Ishvara Pranidhana. Ishvara is the concept of a higher power, God, the source of all life, it can be interrupted in many different ways and it’s up to you to decide what that means for you. In yoga its often the idea of focusing on your higher self, pure consciousness, mother nature, love, light, where ever you believe the source of life comes from. Pranidhana means “surrender”, “devote” or “to be supported by”. It is best explained here by Yogapedia.com:
Ishvara pranidhana is the final Niyama in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and refers to surrendering to a higher source (Ishvara). It is the spiritual act of surrendering the self fully to the divine consciousness, and trusting the divine wisdom to guide the life and actions of the self in order to work in the world.”
So what does surrender really mean? One of the ways that the Collins dictionary defines it, is like this: “If you surrender, you stop fighting or resisting someone and agree that you have been beaten.” So in the case of this Sutra, “Through complete surrender to God, we attain Samadhi.” What are we surrendering? This Niyama is asking us to surrender trying to control everything and particularly trying to control the result of our efforts. For example if I do this, I expect this to happen. It’s asking us to stop filling every minute of every day with busyness and boy I am so guilty of this. Stuck in a routine, Monday I do this, on Tuesday I do that and Wednesday etc etc etc. We are trying to control every minute of every day and as a result we are missing out on life. So instead of trying to control every outcome, how about we try to let go of the outcome, do the work, do it well and offer the effort up in the name of your higher self and let your higher power decide what to do with that effort. Trust that you are being supported that you will be looked after and all of your needs will be met.
| SURRENDER ALSO TAKES BRAVERY |
I’m sure you’ve probably heard the saying, “What’s for you, won’t go by you.” That’s Ishvara Pranidhana in today’s language. Trusting that’s what’s for won’t go by you enables us to let go of control. This Niyama is not asking you to let go of your personality or your unique quirks or your likes or dislikes, you’re not surrendering your sense of humor in any way, instead it’s offering to bring you freedom, it’s inviting you to chill out and enjoy life a little bit more without worrying about the future. If we try our best to follow all of the other Yama’s (Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha) and the Niyama’s (Saucha, Santosha, Tapa’s, Svadhyaya) to the best of our ability and offering that effort and discipline that they require up to our higher self, we will be guided and supported as we move through life. To surrender, the ego has to take a back seat so its not looking for recognition or praise.
“Surrender to what is,
Let go of what was.
Have faith in what will be.”
In our yoga practice we simply let go of expecting a certain outcome from the practice as well as offering the efforts to your higher self you could also dedicate your practice to someone who you know needs it.
ISHVARA PRANIDANA IN ASANA
Baddha Virabhasana – Humble Warrior
Baddha – Bound
Virabh – Name of a Warrior
Asana – Pose
Bound Warrior Pose also known as Humble Warrior or Devotional Warrior
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Humble Warrior is the perfect pose to finish our series of getting to know the Niyama’s as it brings all five Niyama’s into practice. It’s a deep hip opener that improves circulation in the pelvic region, at the same time it requires strength in the lower limbs and core which builds heat therefore providing cleansing properties to the body (saucha), and the discipline to stay in the intensity of the pose requires tapa’s. As the upper body folds forward it encourages us to look within and see our true loving self as it is (svadhyaya), the bowing of the head low or to the floor is the highest form of humility and respect, bowing down and surrendering to the higher power (ishvara Pranidhana) and finally by finding contentment in surrendering our efforts to our higher power we are practicing Santosha.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Grounding and Calming
Strengthens the core and abdomen
Strengthens knees, thighs and feet
Strengthens the spinal muscles while improving it’s range of motion.
Strengthens the arms
Opens the chest and shoulders
Stretches the hips, legs and ankles
Stimulates the nervous system to help it regulate correctly
Stimulates Abdominal Organs
Good for digestion
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
High Blood Pressure and other heart ailments
Vertigo (move slowly and maybe even stay upright)
Any recent injuries or surgery’s in the neck, shoulder, wrists, hips, knees or ankles
Severe lower back pain
HINTS AND TIPS
Feet about hip distance apart for more space and balance
Front hip hugs back and in
Press into the outside edge of the the back foot to keep the back arch and knee lifted
If the pose bothers your back knee, lift the heel and spin onto the ball of the back floor
If chest and shoulders struggle to clasp the hands, use a strap of hold onto the opposite elbows