Isvara Pranidhana

Integral Yoga Teachings   |   March 20, 2015

 Tapah Savahyayesvara Pranidhanani Kriya Yogah.

Yoga SutrasAccepting pain as help for purification, study of spiritual books, and surrender to the Supreme Being constitute Yoga in practice. This niyama appears in the first sutra of the second chapter of Patanjali ‘s Yoga Sutras. It is presented in that sutra along with the concepts of accepting pain for spiritual growth and studying one’s life in the light of the scriptures. It is translated as surrender to the Supreme Being, but I feel it can be understood also as surrender to the Truth.

For example, if we practice asana mindfully, we begin to become aware of how we push beyond our capacity because we want to look better to others or to ourselves. We have an image of ourselves that we try to live up to. It’s painful to realize how often we try to make ourselves look good to cover up our mistakes, or push ourselves to be more accepted and loved. Becoming aware of this is a kind of self-study and leads us to the truth. When we see clearly that our behavior is motivated by selfish interests and are willing to let go of it, this feels to me like Isvara Pranidhana.

Ahh! The relief of being honest about what I really feel, the freedom of pulling back in an asana when I need to, of admitting I made a mistake and saying I’m sorry. Surrender boils down to allowing myself to be guided by a concern for the well-being of all (God in everyone), though it usually plays out as cleaning the bathtub after I use it, or taking just my share of what is given for all the residents of the Institute to use. Because we’re all so accustomed to working to keep up our self-image, it’s a challenge to let down our armor and admit the truth. But I keep finding that surrendering to what is real is a wonderful way to give up this battle and accept the universal law of love as a guide. I like the sound of that—surrendering to love.

(from the May, 2006 IYTA Newsletter)

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