Sanctuary Living by THE YOGA SCHOOL


Surrender your Ego and Desires

By The Yoga School / August 1, 2020

Open up to the universe and experience life as it unfolds.

Of the five niyamas detailed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, isvara-pranidhana is the final niyama that closes the loop. Together, isvara (“Lord, God”) and pranidhana (“devotion, surrender, application”) come together to denote a certain sense of surrender to a higher power or self. Here, devotion can be seen as a way of cultivating and awakening finer, more subtle feelings that pave the way to a more spiritual path.

As the practice suggests, if we are able to surrender to a higher being or self, we come closer to attaining the identity of this higher being – one that is free of affliction or suffering. If we can dedicate our thoughts, actions, and realities to a power beyond ourselves, and trust it to do as it deems fit, we will shed the anxiety and stress that results from reliance on our mortal selves.

When we contemplate the idea of surrender, what commonly comes to mind is the notion of loss, subtraction, or reduction. However, to surrender is not a sign of weakness. It is a step that strengthens us because it weakens the causes of suffering that include egoism, attachment, aversion, or the fear of death.

How often have we discovered a minor bodily ailment, looked up its probable causes online, and spent nights wrecked with anxiety and worry over a malady we might not even be diagnosed with?

Even in the instance where we are saddled with an affliction of sorts, our yoga practice teaches us to allow things to be without turning away from any part of it. By drawing our awareness to the situation and accepting the way the cards have fallen, we can then notice how we react in each moment. What are we holding on to? What are we averse to? What are we actively trying to push away?

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Our craving for the material security of money, the emotional security of love, as well as the ego’s yearning for recognition are basic instincts that often revisit us in the course of life. These desires are often not destructive until we find money, love, or fame slipping away. Our desire to hold on to them, instead of surrendering to the impermanent nature of life, is what will trap us in a cycle of suffering.

Sometimes, we put so much effort into trying to maintain the status quo that it tires us out mentally, physically, and emotionally. But the more we trust reality and bring our pain and pleasure to the universal soul, the weaker the foundations of aversion become.

To borrow the words of Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom, “worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Indeed, upholding the practice of isvara-pranidhana in our daily life can take the form of us opening up to the possibilities of the universe instead of fighting the inevitable challenges that come our way.

Whether it’s the act of leaning into a moment of joy or sorrow, or pain or pleasure – when we surrender to the results of our actions, we are like a leaf that floats on the wings of the wind. Whichever way it blows, it moves us along a path unknown. Don’t be afraid of what is uncertain, because your dreams or new beginnings might just be waiting around the corner. The further away we move from what we’ve so desperately tried to cling onto, the easier it is for us to root ourselves in a new reality. Trust that you are moving closer to a path that you’re meant to take. Experience the freedom of simply trusting that the route has been paved and all you’re doing is traversing it.

A guided meditation practice

Do you have eight minutes to spare? Settle down into a comfortable seated position and let Sarah Blondin lead you in a guided meditation practice focused on reminding us that life is unfolding just as it should.


The Yoga School’s measures to safeguard your well-being on the mat. Download PDF