The last of the ten Yamas and Niyamas is Isvara Pranidhana. This is the culmination of a series of steps leading us to that deep sense of peace, tranquillity and overall happiness that is yoga.
Isvara Pranidhana may be translated as the surrender of the ego to the divine. While the concept of “divine” might mean different things to different people, the essence is the same regardless of the interpretation. The “divine” may mean God, the universal oneness, or simply “love”. Replace “divine” with whatever is your concept of the ultimate source of life – I will be using the word “love” in this blog.
Surrendering our ego to love means taking a deep look at ourselves – our thoughts and actions, and removing any self-centred motivation. All that we think, say and do comes from a place deep in the heart that is inspired by love for all life.
This may sound simple enough, but is it realistic? Can we love that neighbour who likes to party when we need to sleep? What about that person who rudely pushes in front of people who have been waiting in line? Isvara Pranidhana may be the hardest of all the Yamas and Niyamas to put into action. This is why we start at the beginning, Ahimsa, and work our way through the Yamas and Niyamas to get to Isvara Pranidhana.
Our starting point, Ahimsa, teaches us to be kind to all. Regardless of whether someone else is being mean or acting rudely, we respond with kindness. This in itself can have amazing therapeutic benefits for both the person giving kindness and the receiver.
As we work through the other Yamas and Niyamas, we become more in touch with our true selves (think of Satya, Saucha and Svadhyaya); learning to let go of what doesn’t serve us (Aparigraha) helps us rise above problems caused by the ego (I explore this concept further in a forthcoming blog); and our journey takes us to a place of deep happiness (think of Santosha) where we fall in love with life. Here we are ready for Isvara Pranidhana.
The world is more beautiful when all our thoughts and actions come from a loving heart.