Spiritual Reflection and Yoga

By Laura Hansen.

The code of yoga is codified in ancient Indian Scriptures called the Varaha Upanishads. The code includes correct actions or practices that lead to enlightenment (Patanjali, 1999). Prior to the practice of Asana, are the practices of the Yamas and Niyamas which serve as an ethical code and foundation for the practice of yoga. There are five personal practices or Niyamas, the Fifth Niyama is Spiritual Reflection and celebration; surrender yourself happily to the divine.

spiritual yoga

Isvara Pradidanah is the Sanskrit name for this practice which can be roughly translated as “surrender to God.” This is a difficult Niyama for some practitioners because yoga does not includes a strict theistic element. This Niyama does not describe the God that must be surrendered to and leaves this open to individual interpretations. There are a couple of different ways that practitioners can begin to practice this Niyama:

  1. If you do have a belief in God, then by all means, surrender to the God you believe in not only when you practice, but at all times. Practice your beliefs in your asanas, in your practice, and throughout all aspects of your life,

  2. If you believe in a higher power, or a universal consciousness, surrender to that belief. Spend time outside the yoga studio trying to connect with that higher power. You may find meditation helpful or enlightenment groups.

  3. If you do not believe in any kind of higher power simply practice surrender. Many postures require the yogi/yogini to relax a part of the body and surrender to the practice. Play with the dichotomy between surrender and strength. Notice which poses require surrender and which require strength.

  4. Practice staying present in each moment. Stay with your breathing and try not to let the mind move forward or backward from the breath.

According to the Yoga Sutras (1999), this is the last of the actions/practices that lead to enlightenment. The practitioner who is carefully applying all of the ten yamas and niyamas that have been discussed in this series of articles, is ready for the practice of asana and can continue the remaining limbs of the practice leading to enlightenment. This is a tall order as each of these practices requires considerable effort.

After practicing for about thirty years, I can only say that for me it is an ongoing process and that I have never once done any of the yamas or niyamas perfectly. The practice of the yamas and niyamas, like the practice of yoga itself is never complete. Who has always shown compassion for all living things, always spoke the truth, never wanted more and been constantly content with existence? Perhaps there have been a few souls, in the history of the world, but for most of us, it is enough that we acknowledge the goal and work towards improving ourselves.

According to Patanjali (1999), there are eight limbs of yoga:

  1. Yamas

  2. Niyamas

  3. Asana

  4. Pranayama

  5. Pratyahara

  6. Dharana

  7. Dhyana

  8. amadhi

There is a reason that the yamas and niyamas are first, without them full practice of the remaining steps is not possible.


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