Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrender and Being in Life

crow pose to help feel complete in the moment  
Practicing Crow Pose in India; helps me feel completely in the moment.



Deborah Adele writes in her book on the Yoga ethical practices of the Yamas and Niyamas around ishvara pranidhana,

Ishvara pranidhana, The jewel of surrender, presupposes that there is a divine force at work in our lives. Whether we call it God, grace, providence, or life, this force is greater than we are and cares deeply about us. Surrender invites us to be active participants in our life, totally present and fluid with each moment, while appreciating the magnitude and mystery of what we are participating in. Ultimately this guideline invites us to surrender our egos, open our hearts and accept the higher purpose of our being.”


How do we do this? How do we surrender and be active participants in life?

I have been discovering this week through embodying this ethical practice, speaking about it, digesting it, and living in it, that it is actually cyclical. Meaning, as we surrender and notice life as it is, while making choices that are in alignment with our heart, this way of being in the world circles us back to all the previous Yamas and Niyamas.

And, in my humble opinion, and from the perspective of only my life thus far at the age of 41, there will always be a waning and waxing of our ability to always be living life inside a space of pure joy, unconditional acceptance and unconditional love. Note: I haven’t reached a continual state of enlightenment yet 🙂


Again, Deborah Adele:

The yogis tell us that we can live this way all the time, unless we are getting in our own way


I personally feel that it’s not always easy to feel in harmony with life, nor see the beauty in all things. It can be challenging and push us to our edge in order to uphold our own core values and to really trust that in each moment the divine is living, breathing, and supporting us in an unconditionally loving way. 


And yet this is what ishvara pranidhana is inviting us to realize; that there is the divine in everything and every experience.


Jean-Pierre de Caussade, a French Jesuit priest from centuries ago wrote,

 “There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His divine action.”

“How do we begin to find this rhythm of surrender or the immense joy and trust (of life) … ?  When we release our rigidity and our need to control, when we joyfully engage life as it comes to us, and when we place our egos into devotion to that which is greater, we can begin to taste the bounty of this jewel, ishvara pranidhana.”  

Deborah Adele

So there it is, the idea that presupposes that you believe in something greater than yourself.


What do you believe in?

Perhaps, and most likely because you’re reading this blog, you believe in connection. You believe in and uphold a desire to experience love. Most likely you believe in love itself.


Oftentimes, when speaking about love as God, when speaking to the divine and Source, and when contemplating the idea of an entity larger than us, and yet that lives in us, for me it feels very ethereal and abstract. And yet, when I have experiences of pure joy and connection, when I’ve had experiences of heart opening awe, when my children were born, I could not only believe in something so magnificent and so out of this world, but my gratitude in this world deepened!


Ishvara pranidhana invites us to transcend the physical world, and to remember that this divine entity lives within everything.

One of my community members brought up a good point when she shared that during hard and difficult moments in life is especially the time when we must connect with our beliefs that give us strength. Those are particular times when we need to use all of our practices to stay connected to that knowledge of the beauty of the divine.


And this is why ishvara pranidhana cycled me back to all the other practices… To stay observant of life as it is without attachment, judgment, nor expectation.  To practice things like ahimsa, non-violence, and Satya i.e. truthfulness, and to really be always in a practice of svadyaya i.e. self-study, and many of the other practices that yoga offers us.


These practices are as cyclical as breath itself.

And the more I keep her returning, the more I keep inviting myself to be this active participant and to consciously come back to all these teachings, and to come back to the knowledge of my own truth within, and then I do experience how surrender can support me.  I can actually support myself in making more healthful and empowering decisions.

I believe that our intuition is the divine speaking to us from within us. For I am That and That am I. And when I can surrender to That which I am hearing within myself, then I can make those wiser and more skillful decisions moving forward.

“Life knows what to do better than we do. Our task is simply to let go and receive each moment with an open heart, and then dance skillfully with it.” -Deborah Adele

To dance skillfully with life is to surrender to life, see it as it is, listen to my heart and intuition within, and to then see what my role in all things.



Questions to meditate on…

I had an incredible conversation recently with a dear friend of mine and these are some of the questions that we both held for a while,


What is my role in all things?

How will you choose to dance/participate in life?

How will you practice to not be the one thing that gets in your way from living the beautiful life that you’re already living and that you deserve?

The present moment holds infinite riches beyond our wildest dreams

Jean-Pierre de Caussade

What is your experience of the divine at this moment? Because, this moment is divine.

I want to close with this last reading out of Deborah Adele’s book because I keep contemplating it and it keeps supporting me in many various ways. I hope it will support y

Swami Rama used to say “Do what is yours to do; Don’t do what is not yours to do.” How simple these words may sound to our ears, and yet they are profound to our understanding of surrender. As we are able to let go of what we can’t change, we are able to grow more and more into our unique gift and contribution to life itself. There is something that is ours to do, and whether it is larger or small, it is our contribution to the whole of humanity. As we discern where our path lies and then surrender to that awareness, we will begin to taste freedom and joy in a way we never dreamed possible.”


And there it is again, the cycle.


All my love,



Breathe and Believe