This Niyama (skilful actions we can take to help us reach a state of ‘yoga’ or union) in Yoga known as Isvarapranidhana can be broken down to understand it. Isvara has many meanings: meaning personal or supreme, among others. Pranidhana means to surrender (some connect more with the term ‘letting go’ which is also one of the Pillars of Mindfulness) Other terms and translations are devotion or dedication. But devotion/dedication to what? And the idea of surrender or ‘letting go’ is one thing but how do we actually practice it and what is it that we are letting go of?
Here are just a few suggestions of how we can practice our Yoga (one of my favourite definitions of Yoga is to “listen”) Which is pretty hard to do if we are clinging or hanging on. The hanging on of how we want things to be or think they should go.
So the Art of Letting Go some say takes a great deal of faith. For others, this faith arises from having untied the Knotts on the yoga mat (or meditation cushion)
Some ways to begin …..
Letting go of a mistaken identity (the things which we think we are in control of is one way to look at that)
Create some space for your mind and body to be as they are and bring you to a place of experiential understanding just through feeling your way moment by moment. Becoming totally absorbed in the sensation itself or nature itself. This may mean that first, we have to “let go” of our conditioning so we can actually tune in to what is there. (Given this is just a short blog and not a book I won’t go into examples of how we are “conditioned” but in summary question the beliefs you have that cause a clinging feeling in the body)
Letting go of the fact we “know” so we can dive into the mystery itself. In Mindfulness this is fondly referred to as a Beginners Mind.
Understanding the philosophy through the practice of meditation, learning to sit quietly, and inquire into the true nature of how things are is what makes Yoga more than just stretching and physical exercise. It’s what makes Yoga not only a technique but a way of being.
There are many things that can stop us from letting go even when we ‘know’ that’s what we need to do. And there are many ways to practice it. But one thing I have learned is that it is a daily practice and it happens when it happens, not when you will it. Having said that it can start with the dedication “Thy will be done” or making a choice to let go of the past and ‘see’ what happens.
I’ve left you with links to a beautiful poem on Letting Go at the end of this blog and also links to a practice that may help in those moments of not being able to ‘let go’ especially of states of mind like “right / wrong” “fair / unfair” which can cause a clinging feeling or contraction in the body.
The Yamas and Niyamas are not Yoga Rules nor are they about religion. They can be little portals or entry points into the state of “Yoga”. They unveil new gifts every time they are reflected on and practice in various ways. The short blogs on each are just some of the suggestions and I look forward to sharing more ways to help your practice of Yoga & Mindfulness on and off the Yoga Mat.
Jack Kornfield sheds light on the possibilities and value of reflecting and taking skilful action in his quote below:
“At first, following a moral code can be seen as a protection for yourself and others. With further practice and reflection, you can see how each basic area of truthfulness and integrity can be developed into a meditation itself, bringing you awakening and sowing seeds of inner freedom. As you develop each area of your virtue, it can become a spontaneous gift, an offering of caring from your heart to all other beings.” Jack Kornfield
One of my favourite ways to practice this art of Letting Go, is through Long Slow Deep Yoga , this just due to its nature of getting into the fascia of the body, untieing the Knotts (not just physically but emotionally too!) For me it is the perfect blend of Vipassana (Insight Meditation) and Yin Yoga.
It’s one of my most loved Modules to Teach Teachers not only due to integrating the Science of Fascia and what it does physically but mentally. Because it is a longer and slower form of asana (Yoga Postures) all done on the floor, honing in on the hips, hamstrings this is the perfect opportunity for Teachers to learn how to Teach Insight Meditation & Mindfulness Philosophy in their dialogue. Not from reading a script but from being facilitated through their own understanding experiences on the mat. – click here for more information on
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CLICK HERE for Tammys Blog on Mindfulness Practices for handling those feelings of being ‘wronged’ or finding it hard to “let go”
CLICK HERE for the Poem on Letting Go