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Demystifying Yoga: Isvarapranidhana - a Practice of Trust

Updated: Jul 21, 2022

It was week 2 into another migraine and it was killing me! My head felt like it was in a fog and cognitive processing was slow.

I knew I needed to rest, but I was adamant to still do my classes. Physically I was still fine and strong (ok, apart from - my rights and lefts were even more muddled up than usual, going upside-down was unpleasant and turning my head to scan a roomful of people was making my head swim!) but I had a new vinyasa flow and I was excited to teach it.

Needless to say, I still did all my classes. But I made mistakes; multiple times in practically all my classes.

I made profuse apologies to my tribes.

But you know what, none of them took my mistakes seriously. In fact, they were all so compassionate and kind about it. Sure, one could say that of course, they wouldn’t really say anything even if they were peeved.

But I don’t think that’s the case with my tribe. Their compassion gave me the space to trust and stop judging and punishing myself for the mistakes during class.

After that fortnight of migraines, I opted to take it easy. I conceded that my body needed extra rest.

So for the next couple of week's worth of classes, I decided to just trust that:

  • I knew what I was doing. I knew my classes and how to deliver them, so even if I could not do all the poses because of my migraine, I could still give my class.

  • My tribe knew what my situation was and had kindness and compassion for me, and

  • Trust that with all those considered, everything will be ok, and "this too, shall pass".


Isvarapranidhana is translated from Sanskrit to "all is as it is meant to be".

I'm wary over this meaning though, because it can be interpreted from "the Universe will provide" to "why even bother...", both of which can be taken as relinquishing one's responsibility to themselves and others and just "let the universe decide".

This is why I prefer translating Isvarapranidhana to TRUST.

Trust is a form of surrender, but first -

establish that trust.

We surrender to the person in whom we put that trust; that could be ourselves, other people, a set of policies or procedures, a system of governance - anything or anyone we rely on and in whom we've placed a measure of confidence for an outcome.

Practicing trust is not a relinquishment of our own responsibilities, unlike what I previously mentioned. Trust is the outcome of invested experience and knowledge, and this takes time to build.

We can not place our trust in something or someone without due diligence on our part to make sure this something or someone is worthy of that trust. We just can't. We have a responsibility to ourselves and those who have placed trust in us.

But once this trust is established, then we can start relying on it; that's where the sense of surrender starts.

How can we practice Isvarapranidhana?

  • Trust the right kind of information. Have a healthy sense of skepticism. We're not leading with doubt here, but a healthy questioning safeguards us from fraudulent and misleading information. Yes, it's so easy to Google our information. We've gone such a long way from having to go to the library of ring around people who may know the answers we seek. But this freedom and abundance of information is also fraught with the wrong kind of information. So, do your due diligence and question.

  • Trust in the right kind of opinions. Everyone is entitled to our own opinions, yes. But that doesn't mean that everyone can nor should influence others to have the same as theirs (conspiracy theorists, anyone?).

  • Trust your gut. If you feel any uneasiness in making a decision, whether that's your own or you're being lead to it, stop and take a moment to meditate on it. Don't feel rushed or bullied into anything.

  • Trust yourself. Your life to this point has been an amalgamation of your choices, mistakes, opportunities, wins, losses. Your actions, thoughts and purpose has been moulded by your ever-growing experiences and values. Keep trusting that.

  • Trust in love. Now, I'm not being airy-fairy here. But, there's no one I would trust more than the people I love. There's nothing I would rather do than what I love. There's nothing I would like to spend my energy and time on (music, books, hobbies, etc.) than on what I love. I would not spend brain cells on something, like writing this, if it didn't give me any sense of purpose; and purpose comes from love.

Trust, that leads to surrender, which comes from love. That's all Isvarapranidhana is.

💙 Aileen


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