Isvara Pranidhana … to let go, to surrender.

Sep 21, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, Yoga  //  No Comments

In the yoga sutras, there are 5 restraints (the yamas) and 5 observances (the niyamas). These restraints and observances are almost like 10 commandments for living your life (and in some cases mirror or are very similar to the 10 commandments found in the Old Testament in the Christian bible and in the Torah, for example ahimsa, the practice of not harming yourself or others is similar to “Thou shalt not kill”, and asteya, the practice of not stealing, including time, possessions, is similar to “Thou shalt not steal”.). I have found that in the last 9 months, the niyama of Isvara Prandihana has particularly resonated with me. The idea of letting go and surrendering to that which is greater than myself is very powerful and liberating. And practicing it (or diligently trying to) forces me to give up one thing that I particularly have difficulty giving up – control.

During my 200-hr yoga teacher training, we did a yoga philosophy take-home exam and I wrote the following about Isvara Pranidhana:

“Isvara Pranidhana is the practice of letting go of control. It is recognizing that one cannot control everything and by losing your grip, you can achieve true happiness. Change is a constant in life, some change is controlled by you, some change is controlled by those around you, and other change is contributed by your environment. By allowing yourself the freedom to live in the moment and not dwell on what might be or what was, you free yourself from pain and suffering and are able to grow through and appreciate what life has served you.”

So on the last part, it’s not to say that you will never have any pain or suffering but by letting go of control, you move forward rather than dwell and be stuck.

Our take-home exam was a collection of our personal reflections and thoughts about various elements of yoga philosophy. And here, I was reflecting on something that I must work very hard at. At first, the idea of surrendering was very daunting and honestly, quite scary. I had to give up control (and for a type A personality, giving up control is really difficult). Giving up control for me is really a lot of getting out of my own mind (sometimes I think way too much), to allow life to just happen. And by no means am I even close to having mastered this, but I’m on a path that helps foster the ability to let go. Letting go of my preconceived notions and my insecurities allows me to not be as judgmental as I might otherwise be and allows my natural confidence to shine. I stop trying to be something I’m not and just get to be me. And letting go of my desire to take charge of everything has enabled me to add a little more fun to my life.

At the end of my yoga practice, I often describe savasana (final relaxation) as surrendering into the floor and letting go of stress and anxiety, allowing new energy to refresh me. I joke that I don’t want to know what is really swept up when the studio assistants sweep the floor, as everyone leaves something behind. It took me several months of practice to learn how to let go and release in savasana and I use that experience to help me learn how to let go and surrender control in life.

In a half dozen translations of the yoga sutras, there will likely be a half dozen slightly different translations and just as many varied interpretations. This is my interpretation of this niyama and my present experience with surrendering and letting go. I continue to work to let go of control (it’s a long road for a type A personality, but it’s rewarding when it happens) and I’m sure that I will for a long time.

Have you “let go” or “surrendered” recently? Was it scary? How do you feel now about your choice to let go?

Leave a comment

About Lisa

Auntie to two adorable little boys and a beautiful little girl. Sister. Friend. Yogini. Yoga teacher. Accountant. Knitter. Amateur photographer. Very amateur golfer.

Where to Find Lisa

Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m.
Yoga 1 (1 hour)*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. Yoga On-the-Go*
Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. Yoga 1*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Substitute Teach, As Needed*
Tranquil Space Arlington and Dupont

*Click here to make a reservation for any of these classes!

Blog Archive