Yoga Challenge: Niyamas (Personal Observances) #5 – Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender)

Daily Yogi branch of Niyamas lower limb of yoga - Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishvara Pranidhana
Niyamas – Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishvara Pranidhana

Happy Day 10 of our 30 Day Yoga Challenge – Ishvara Pranidhana

Today we are examining the final of the five Niyamas – Ishvara Pranidhana or Surrender.

2nd Limb of Yoga – Niyamas #5 – Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender)

Ishvara Pranidhana (Ish-VA-ra PRA-knee-DAH-na) is literally translated to English as “renouncing the fruits of action” (thank you Thiru at for this translation!) to all-pervading consciousness. The more common translations include surrender or devotion (which we will use for brevity), and the essential concept here is faith in a higher power. This surrender is not about giving up hope when you face your problems, but acceptance. It helps to recall the full translation from Sanskrit above for the true meaning of this practice: non-attachment to outcomes of our actions. Ishvara Pranidhana is typically the most confusing of the Niyamas, especially for new Yogis or those who do not practice outside religions.

Despite the difficulty of both understanding and incorporating this last of the Niyamas into our lives, it is often one of the most rewarding. We all have good days, and we all have bad days. The essence of this is allowing the bad days to pass, trying to believe everything happens for a reason, and keeping moving forward in positive directions despite challenges we may face. I have called my short temper in the past “Ginger Rage”. Tantrum is probably more appropriate… for example very frequently swearing if I get cut off on the highway. But has my little tantrum helped the situation at all?

Advanced Yogis who incorporate Ishvara Pranidhana into their lives may begin seeing difficulties as challenges to overcome, and opportunities to practice managing our responses. This is one of the keys of long-lasting happiness, since getting upset often does nothing to help a bad situation and only makes things more difficult for ourselves. Instead, try to stay calm, and do not allow a negative encounter to draw you into negativity. Of course, this is easier said than done! Remember, it is a journey.

Today’s Positive Practice suggestion

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to practice acceptance when something bad or less-than-positive happens today. Try a deep breathing exercise when you encounter a problem. If you lose your temper, perhaps try to step outside yourself and see yourself reacting to a difficulty, and ask yourself if your reaction was productive. If it is possible, try seeing the silver lining for potential for growth in a bad situation. If you are practiced in religious faith, perhaps try praying for your own peace, calm, and understanding instead of a solution to a problem you are facing. Again, this is a journey and this particular practice today is one of the most difficult, so be gentle with yourself. If at first you do not succeed, evaluate what your reaction contributed, and try again next time. Treat this as an experiment, and see how you feel later after trying different approaches to problems that arise.

Want more Ishvara Pranidhana practices? Check out our Ishvara Pranidhana Guide!

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Share your Practice

Please comment to share how this exercise impacted you. Feel free to share your successes or your struggles with this challenging practice. Always remember, be kind!

7 thoughts on “Yoga Challenge: Niyamas (Personal Observances) #5 – Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender)

  1. I practice this almost every day with California’s terrible drivers who go 60 in the passing lane because they don’t know how to use a highway. See I’m already getting worked up. But today I will let it go. 😉

    1. It’s amusing that you get road rage, I guess I wouldn’t know, because I always drove us everywhere. You are the most chill woman I’ve ever met and I admire it so much <3

  2. Since quarantine started 4 months ago, I’ve had basically zero time to myself and it seems I can’t complete a task/thought without someone interrupting/asking me for something. As an introvert who doesn’t need an excuse to get distracted 😆this overwhelms/frustrates me to no end and I don’t always react in the nicest way. Tomorrow when this happens I’ll try taking a deep breath/counting to 5 before responding and see if that helps me feel a little calmer 🤞🏼

  3. Like all the other parents out there I have been quarantined for what feels like forever with my kids. They have been pushing each other buttons and mine a lot these days. I’ve been trying to keep my cool and not over react like I usually do.

  4. I was having a difficult day with the stresses of work, studying, and filling out home loan paperwork with my husband. There was an item we didn’t understand and I tried very hard to maintain a calm attitude despite everything happening all at once. It’s been a challenge to juggle everything but the shift in attitude really helped me to cope.

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