Ishvara Pranidhana is an invitation to release control. The idea that we have to control our lives in order to make them work, often results in us creating greater tension and stress. But if we practice faith that all things will unfold in due course, we can find stillness, peace and a sense of magic in our lives.
This doesn’t mean not participating, as the previous Yamas and Niyamas have taught us, we need to be applying a healthy dose of compassion, discipline and moderation to our daily lives, but surrendering to what is and allowing ourselves to function within the boundaries of time and space with intention and compassion, allows us not only to become deeply productive, but to experience life with humility.
When there is an awakening to a greater power, whether you call it God, or time, or Nature (or anything else for that matter), then we can see ourselves within it. Imagine standing on a vast cliff looking out to a powerful ocean, or gazing up to a clear night sky, remember a time when you felt awed by nature and small within it – that is the essence of ishvara pranidhana. When we awaken to the bigger picture our controlling minds take a step back and a deeper wisdom emerges, a gentle but powerful allowing. It’s a wisdom which knows we are finite and limited, but equally purposeful, a knowing that we were created exactly as we are for exactly the purpose of being who we are within our own skin, then more widely within our families communities and within humanity.
The bigger picture offers a sense of humility and humility enables us to live well. Simply looking up to the sky and recognising its vastness, or watching the turn in seasons knowing that there is a greater force and power at work is enough, and that within it we also are enough. Within our Yoga practice we practice a sense of surrender when we become aware not just of the placement of our bodies within any particular pose, but within the pose we surrender to gravity, to the support of the earth and the limitations of our bodies at that time. It’s an understanding that our intention and placement is just one small and humble piece of the picture, that so many other conditions contribute to the experience we’re having, and that those things are beyond our control.
Take Ishvara Pranidhana off the mat today: Look up to the sky and contemplate it’s vastness, notice nature around you, trees, plants, weather, the ocean. When you feel a sense of connection then notice how you feel. Sometimes that feeling is humbling and peaceful, and sometimes our egos are terrified of releasing control. Whatever your reaction, just notice, make a note in your journal.