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illustration mandala text ishvara pranidhana

How to incorporate the fifth Niyamas Ishvara pranidhana (surrender) into your life.

NOTE If you just landed on this article please read the first article in this series first:

What can an ancient text called the Yoga Sutras do for you?


This article includes a short introduction to the concept of Ishvara Pranidhana + journal prompts + practical and easy ways to incorporate the concept into your life.


NIYAMAS – The inner ethical rules.

(Yoga Sutra II.32)


Niyamas is the second limb in the 8 limbs of Astanga Yoga. Ni means inwards or within and Yamas means restraint = as in holding back or trying to stop doing.


The Niyamas are 5 ethical principles for moral conduct and for how you treat yourself. They focus on daily activities, actions, attitudes, and communication. By working with the 5 principles, you work with the areas that can contribute to increasing your sense of joy and happiness.


The 5 principles are: cleanliness (saucha), contentment (santosha), discipline (tapas), self-study (swadhyaya) and surrender (ishvara pranidhana).


The principles of internal awareness and attention are suggestions for relating to yourself. The purpose is to create a healthy inner environment that will help you live a life of the highest quality and achieve your potential. By trying to live by them, you are helping to pave the way for

personal growth.



woman praying



Ishvara Pranidhana – surrender, the fifth Niyamas

(Yoga Sutra II 45)


Ishvara Pranidhana is the fifth and final Niyamas. Pranidhana specifically refers to the surrender or dedication of your life and actions to the divine, or a higher universal power.


Ishvara translates roughly to the word "lord" or "supreme". Now this can be any religious deity, personal deity, the universe itself, or the universal consciousness. Whatever you want it to be. Pranidhana means dedication, devotion, or surrender and it involves dedicating your efforts and actions to the higher good of all mankind.


So, you do not need to literally surrender yourself to anything. But try to live a life where your actions and efforts work not only to satisfy your ego but also to improve the lives of those around you, the earth, and everybody living on it.


It is about cultivating an attitude of humility and surrender to a force greater than yourself. Recognizing that, despite your efforts and actions, there is a greater cosmic order that influences the outcome of your endeavors. Things might not always go your way, but trust in the fact that what happens is happening for the good of all.


Ishvara Pranidhana does not imply passivity or avoidance of action. Instead, it emphasizes performing actions with dedication and effort while surrendering attachment to a specific outcome, trusting in the larger cosmic order. 


It represents a balance between effort (personal endeavor) and surrender (recognition of the divine or universal flow), guiding you toward a state of grace, contentment, and deeper spiritual understanding.


Practical steps when working with Ishvara Pranidhana.


Applying Ishvara Pranidhana to the practice of yoga and any kind of physical exercise.


  • Perform poses and breathwork not for physical prowess or achievement but as an offering or devotion to the divine.
  • Have an intention with your training, end train with gratitude.
  • Be open to what you experience (body and mind) in connection with your practice.
  • Allow room for others, also if this means they get ahead of you.
  • Focus on the process of training instead of specific goals.
  • If you can, help and support others to get better.


Applying Ishvara Pranidhana to your life.


  • Perform acts of kindness without expecting anything in return.
  • Do your duties and responsibilities with dedication to a greater good or higher purpose, rather than for personal gain.
  • In meditation surrender your desires to experience something specific for a deeper connection with the universal consciousness.
  • Practice humility and acceptance in your work and relationship with others.
  • Use self-exploration practices to identify when you let the ego do the driving.
  • Volunteer and perform acts of kindness and compassion.


soft cover Book The quick guide to the yoga sutrasGrab the Quick Guide to The Yoga Sutras 8 Limbs of Yoga




Important self-investigation.


By acknowledging that not everything is under your control, you can reduce your attachment to egocentric outcomes, and personal gains. And instead, cultivate a deep trust in the flow of life and the belief that, if you align your actions with good intentions and a higher purpose, you will be guided and supported.


This practice encourages you to look beyond your immediate desires and connect with something larger than yourself, which can be a source of profound spiritual growth and fulfillment. By releasing attachments to a specific outcome of your actions, you can find peace and contentment, regardless of the outcome, knowing that you acted with pure intentions and to the best of your abilities.


Try to make choices that benefit everyone, and not just yourself. Act with humility and accept that not everything you do will work out. If you can’t change your situation, surrender to it, and instead of fighting against circumstances beyond your control, use your energy in areas of your life where you can actually achieve something and truly make a difference.


Examine what the concept of surrender means to you? And how do you currently practice or resist surrender in your life? And are there areas of your life where you struggle with letting go of control?


Contemplation and Journal prompts on Ishvara Pranidhana.


  1. How does your ego influence your ability to surrender? 
  2. How do you currently connect with or perceive the divine or a higher power in your life? 
  3. In what ways can you express devotion to a higher power or the universal flow in your daily actions and decisions?
  4. How can your daily actions, work, or practices be of greater benefit to others? 
  5. How would surrendering the outcome of an action change your experience or feelings about a situation?
  6. How can practicing gratitude influence your ability to surrender? 
  7. How does fear influence your ability to surrender? What steps can you take to cultivate more faith and less fear?
  8. What specific practices or rituals can you integrate into your daily routine to cultivate a deeper sense of surrender and connection to the divine?
  9. How can Ishvara Pranidhana influence your relationships with others? 


Ready to take the next step - Asana!

Disclaimer

The information found in this blog post is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for a health professional's advice. If you are struggling with health issues please seek professional help. The use of any information provided in this blog post is solely at your own risk.


Author Mette Rosenqvist


she/her

With 10 years of supporting women release and manage emotional and physical pain to achieve optimal health, Mette is the seasoned coach and blogger behind MeRoyoga, a Holistic Health website. Dedicated to empowering women of all ages and backgrounds, her work is based on cultivating mind-body awareness and self-regulation through compassionate inquiry. As a Multi passionate coach, Mette incorporates several healing modalities to create bespoken sessions prioritizing inclusion, meaning, and accessibility and thrives on helping women discover all the choices available to them so they can build trust and safety in themselves, and move through life present, centered, and empowered.




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