This week during almost all of my yoga seesions, I have been offering up one of the niyamas, or inner practices of yoga, Ishvara pranidhana—surrendering (pranidhana) to a higher source (Ishvara). Ishvara pranidhana invites a sacred shift of perspective that helps anyone who practices it to remember to align with, and as a result receive, the gracious expansiveness in being alive.
It starts, as all powerful experiences do, in still vulnerability; suspended in the questions, not seeking answers, prepared and grateful to remain in the beauty of the unknown. It’s an active engagement that offers up the spirit-filled essence of who we are; limitless, peaceful joy completely aligned with the Divine. It really is a wonderful “big picture” practice; lush and replete with loving affirmative vibrational energy.
At the end of this particular session of yoga I have been offering up a period of syadhyaya (another niyama). Syadhyaya is self-reflection and when combined with the tapas, (yet another niyama), or deep discipline, inherent in the asana or posture portion of the on the mat practice comprise kriya yoga, the threefold yoga of action.
It’s honestly not as complex as the sanskrit implies. The process has a lot of humble virtue inherent within it. The Yoga of Surrender has revealed itself to be a beautiful and subtle practice; overwhelmingly enriching, shimmeringly swirly and way beyond fathomable or definable. It varies with each individual experience of it and can have long-lasting and transcendent effects.
I have been ending the practice with the following meditative reflection by the poet Danna Faulds:
“This is what I have to say to you. In the first stage of your journey you learned to replace harmful beliefs with helpful ones. It was such a relief to let go of negativity that it became a temptationto stay there—to make your home in those newly acquired positive thoughts. But a positive self image is still a mask. The next stage of your journey is becoming comfortable with the unknown. It involves being clear and courageous enough to rest in bare awareness without having to create another identity, without needing to tack yet another belief to the end of ‘I am’.
Experience the expansion, the spaciousness that comes from resting in the truth of unknowing. It isn’t comfortable, at least not now, but it is powerful and inherently creative. It’s what your soul longs for. Use the sense of vertigo to leave behind the known, and let go of the need to tether your soul to anything solid or definable. Let yourself go, over and over, until it is second nature to be weightless.”