Over the last 4 weeks I have discussed the niyamas, the second limb of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga. The 5th Niyama, ईश्वर प्रणिधान: Isvara Pranidhana, which means surrendering to a power greater than yourself.
Some students struggle with the term God. I remind them that it can be nature (look at the power of the ocean, lightening, wind), it can be the class or a group of people (any number greater than one is greater than our ego flying solo), or you can think about being the best that you can be (greater than who we might be on a stressful day).
According to TKV Desikachar, isvara pranidhana means, “Reverence to [a Higher Power] promotes the ability to completely understand any object.” By giving ourselves or surrendering to something greater than ourselves, we are able to understand ourselves, others and situations that we might have struggled with in the past.
We develop focus and faith. Sometimes it seems that we do not reap the benefits of a practice as quickly as we’d like. Yoga is a gradual practice. As we cultivate our practice, our lifestyle and our lives, change is many times subtle.
Yoga is not a band-aid, at least not for very long. Continued practice brings us to a deeper, subtler place. We must also be diligent. If I let a practice go, my old ways eventually show up. I am not suggesting that our practices don’t change over time because they certainly do and should.
How can you begin to connect to your Higher Power and let go of your ego?
- If you have a spiritual practice, you might begin there.
- Sitting 5-10 minutes per day and focusing on your breath. If you’re not sure of how to sit and you live in the SLC, UT area, join me for an introduction to meditation, June 3rd, 6-8 pm, Bliss and Baklava.
- Reading spiritual or inspiring literature first thing in the morning or right before bed.
- Recite the mantra ॐ OM (according to TKV, OM means isvara). The more you recite OM, the closer you will come to your Higher Power.
- Focus on a picture, statue or image of your Higher Power or something that has the qualities of your higher power (moon, ocean, mountain).
- Use a word or sound, a mantra, from your religious or spiritual upbringing that has meaning to you. Repeat it aloud or silently.
- Dedicate your asana practice to your Higher Power.
- Let go of judgement and criticism in your life and in your practice.