Empowering Curious Minds

& Open Hearts

Ishvara Pranidhana:
A Spiritual Practice of Surrender

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Ishvara Pranidhana

A Spiritual Practice of Surrender

Ishvara: Pranidhana (Ish-va-ra-pra-nid-hah-na), the fifth and last Niyama in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, is the practice of surrender. In our practice, we find this in the practice of creating and maintaining an element of space. Space to untangle our emotions from experience. Space to allow ourselves the opportunity to say “My experience currently holds a lot of conflict,” without allowing our emotions to be resolutely determined by that experience. Space to say “that week held a lot of surprises” without us being swept up and carried away in the accompanying thoughts and emotions of our conditioned response(s) to those surprises. 

Anandamaya Kosha, which refers to the Bliss Body, stems from the root “ānanda”, a Sanskrit term meaning “divine joy“. This experience of contentment differs from the temporary joy we experience through sensory pleasures in that it is a much deeper, felt, dynamic joy that may be found regardless of circumstances outside oneself as it originates from within.

Nourishing Kink

The connotative deviancy of kink and bondage and their assumed sexual notions with intensity and rough play are becoming increasingly antiquated. The relative and variable relationships we have to gender experience and expression are becoming more compassionate. The intentional incorporation of BDSM as a “healthy form of intimacy” and self-care practice is becoming more commonplace as a self-care metric.

This is not to say that there aren’t still cruel injustices in the world of human and social justice. Nor is it to take for granted or belittle any previous sacrifices in our fight for equality. This is to appreciate those efforts by admiring our growth.

As a collectively conscious society, we have begun to deepen our appreciation for the complications of human dynamics and with that have started to expand our awareness of kinky play as a deeply nourishing activity.

In a positive sexuality framework of BDSM…

  • Communication, consent, and safety are fundamental and mandatory (as is respect and appreciation for that communication and the person communicating).
  • Shame and judgment are not welcome here. Curiosity and playful, open-minded embrace of our sexual experience and pleasure is encouraged.
  • Courage, community, love, and our beautifully diverse authentic expression(s) are celebrated.
  • Meaningful, intimate connection(s) is/are nurtured.

What, where, and how do you feel your most authentic, truest, self? 

It is in this world of kink and BDSM that so many of us experience perhaps our truest form of felt authenticity. Many of us find refuge, affirmation, peace, community, and a place of validating security. A space that allows us to feel safe, supported, and nourished. For me personally, this is a space where I am permitted to somatically step into my body in such a way that balances out the sometimes unrelenting weight of my mind.

The thing about this “space” is that it looks different for every single one of us. Some find this through woodworking. Some find this through sewing. Some find this through writing. Some find this space through fishing. What practices allow us to embody an alignment of our internal landscape as expressed in the external world? What practices allow us this sense of space to tease out the influence of whatever we are doing on our felt, internal environment? 

In addressing anxiety and mental health, it becomes increasingly important to develop tools and resources we can refer to when we are being pulled from the present. It is from this perspective that I lean on my yoga and kink practices.

A Practice of Mindfulness and Gratitude

Yoga is often placed in the same quick-sort category our mind sends stretching or light exercise. This abbreviated summary is a gross oversimplification.

Yoga can be any number of things to any number of people. For me, it is a practice of balancing my mental and physical energies. Of taking some quiet time. Of tending to my spiritual garden. Of taking care of my mental, physical, and energetic elements.

With any luck, as our familiarity with yogic principles and practices grows, so too does our ability to recall our minds as they stray from the present moment.

This practice may use any number of methods:

  • Increasing our somatic awareness of our anatomical bodies (asana practice)
  • Harnessing the mind-body connection of the nervous system and its intertwinings with our breathing (pranayama practice)
  • Cultivating an emotional cognizance and awareness of what we are feeling and how we may be embodying those emotions (pratyahara practice)

On and off the mat, these recall practices become of crucial importance in our anxiety management toolkit. As our ability to become aware of the space between stimulus and response increases, so too does our awareness of the choice that exists there. The choice of how we’d like to respond, not react, to the situation in front of us.

In becoming aware of this choice, we are better able to:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of our own conditioned perspectives 
  • Develop our communication skills to properly express the emotions moving through us
  • Increase our capacity to hold this space for others, being aware of our conditioned perspective
  • Offer ourselves and each other compassion for the 10% of the time we mess up (we’re all only human, try to remember the 90% of the time we/they crush it)
  • Participate in a community that prioritizes the wellness of our individual and collective physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual care

It is from this lens of compassion, wellness, and restorative care, that I celebrate yoga, kink, nature, and nourishing sexploration. It is in this space that I align my internal and external ecosystems. In this space where I am aware of the ropes that bind my physical body but find the sweet bliss of my internal energetic experience. It is in this space of ecosex that I bow to the beautiful bouquet of possibility, creativity, and divine joy of what it means and entails to be alive. It is in this “space”, this practice of Samadhi, that I am permitted the presence of mind and moment of pause to distinguish the difference between there is something (conflict, sadness, anger, etc.) and I am something (conflicted, sad, angry, etc.)

In this space between our external and internal experiences lies the opportunity for awareness. In our awareness, lies the opportunity to choose how we would like to respond to the situation and circumstances in front of us. 

Blessings to my journey, and to yours. 

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Larissa Farrell

Environmentalist, yogini, sex educator, & graphic designer.