Ishvara Pranidhana~ Surrender (humility and faith) 

Jump into your life with your whole heart, trusting that you will fly! ~ C.L. 

Ishvara pranidhana, surrender, reminds us that there is a divine force at work in our lives. It invites us to be active participants in our life, totally present and fluid with each moment, while appreciating the magnitude and mystery of what we are participating in. 

Nicolai Bachman refers to Ishvara-pranidhana as humility and faith. He says it is the personal practice of deep respect for, admiration of, and faith in a higher, inner knowledge.  When we can calm the mind we can listen to our inner teacher.  Then we choose to act without expectation.  When we dedicate the fruits of our action to Ishvara (universal soul) it is truly freeing.  When we understand that each person is a constantly changing outer shell encasing an unchanging, pure inner light of awareness, then we can show love for the divine in all beings.

Pranidhana implies a state of humility in the presence of something higher. Humility means that egotism is not active. No one owns knowledge. We all dip into the giant soup of universal intelligence.   When you surrender to the divine it allows you to truly understand your relationship with it. 

History is full of great people who surrendered to the hardships and challenges of their time and engaged those hardships with creativity and skill. These inspirational people like Ghandi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, understood that surrender meant giving themselves to a higher purpose because that was what life asked of them. They were ordinary people that did not shrink away when challenge arose, but instead chose to meet the moment skilfully. We don’t have to look for greatness; we only need to pay attention to the needs of the moment.  When we are aware of what is right in front of us, we will get clues into our own development and direction. When life needs us, it will come to us, but we will recognize it only if we are paying attention and if we are courageous enough to respond. 

The jewel of Ishvara Pranidhana invites us approach our Yoga practice in the spirit of offering. We can make an intention at the beginning of our practice to let go of what no longer serves us so that we can cultivate our ‘greatness’.  We can dedicate our practice to something bigger than ourselves and offer the benefits we receive from the practice to all beings.  This niyama asks us to let go of tensions in our mind and body. By watching our thoughts float by like leaves and twigs on a river, this helps us to calm the monkey mind. In all of our Yoga poses we can practice easing into the effort.  And the Yogis say that Corpse Pose is the most important pose of all as we let go of all the doing. When we lay in the corpse pose, the position of death, it is symbolic of letting go of another layer to allow our heart center to open. Like a flower opening to the sun, it requires surrender. As the flower grows towards the light, its purpose is to bloom. It’s vulnerability and delicacy is what makes the flower beautiful. But first it is important to have roots of support. When we take care of ourselves it helps us to feel rooted and gives us an inner strength. The 3 pillars of Ayurveda invite us to eat food that is alive, to get enough sleep and to exercise our body. This is what gives us strong roots so that we can bloom in our own lives. 

Deborah Adele says, “When we practice all the Yamas and niyamas we are learning to find our compassion and courage, our boldness and contentment, and the knowledge of how we get in our own way. As we grow in all the skills of these 10 guidelines we will be able to greet each moment worthy of what it asks of us. We all have something to offer humanity. As we discern where our path lies and then surrender to that awareness, we will begin to taste freedom and joy.  Surrender asks us to be strong enough to engage each moment with integrity while being soft enough to flow with the current of life”. 

At the end of our yoga practice we join and share a chant together. This is an affirmation of Ishvara Pranidhana as we offer the benefits we receive from our practice, to others, so that all beings can be happy and free.

Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu




  1. WOW oh WOW what a beautiful and thouhgtful website !!! I have rededicated my life to our lord and savior and I really thouht I had to give up yoga that I truly love !!! YEAH .Thank you so so much for ALL of your work!!! OXOXOX

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