NIYAMAS - ISHVARA PRANIDHANA
We tie up the second limb of yoga with Ishvara Pranidhana, or the surrendering to something greater than ourselves. Patanjali strategically left this one for last because it puts everything into a clearer picture. It isn’t until we’ve explored and introduced all the other Yamas and Niyamas into our lives that we can truly surrender to “The Self”. More simply put, the more we delve into these limbs and feel their positive effects, the more humbly we can surrender to something greater than ourselves. In this modern age it can be a bit precarious tip-toeing around the discussion of religion and beliefs, but as Yoga evolves and changes in today’s society, Ishvara (The Self) can be viewed as God, God’s or simply Mother Nature. Whatever your beliefs are, Ishvara Pranidhana is the selfless act of humility. Allowing ourselves to humbly bow to a greater power, whatever that may mean for you.
In some yoga practices classes begin with an opening prayer which is a blessing of gratitude that we offer up to all the yoga teachers and Sages who have come before us. We express gratitude that this wonderful tradition has been preserved and passed down from teacher to student for thousands of years so that we can experience its incredible benefits today.
So next time you practice try inviting these simple thoughts into your mind before you begin. Humbly bow to those who have come before you, those who have moved in the same ways you move on your own mat today and allow yourself to feel connected to a system much bigger and greater than all of us as individuals.
I will leave you with my personal favorite mantra, one I have hanging right in my yoga space. I begin my practice with a mantra that expresses gratitude for the practice and I finish with the mantra listed below, which reminds me to share what I have gained from my practice with the world around me.
This is the Mangala Mantra which comes from the Rig Vedas. Its English translation is:
May the rulers of the earth keep to the path of virtue
For protecting the welfare of all generations.
May the religious, and all people be forever blessed,
May all beings everywhere be happy and free.
Peace, Peace, Perfect Peace.