Yoga Sutras for Modern Day Life: Surrender

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2:45 Through surrender to pure awareness/God, one can achieve Samadhi/oneness.

Defining the Sutra:

Patanjali gives many ways to find Samadhi or establish a connection to truth.   Isvarapranidana, surrender to God or the surrender to the supreme energy within you is one of those paths.

Modern Day Application

Surrender has a bad rep. Just like attachment has been erroneously associated with inaction, surrender has been erroneously associated with being a doormat.  Surrender is the ability to be completely where you are. Through surrender, we face what is directly in front of us. Eckhart Tolle says, “hope is the enemy of the now.” If someone has a gun to my head, I can hope that they put it down or I can surrender to the situation which allows me to clearly see ways of getting out of the situation when they become available.  When we surrender, our minds become clear.  If someone has a gun to my head and I start thinking about my life, and kids and all the things I have not done, I may not notice that the back door is unlocked. If I am hoping the cops come and save me, and waiting for them to get there, I may miss the split second when the gun man is distracted. Surrendering is a way to let go of our story so that we can take inspired action.

Surrendering also helps us let go of our attachments. If your life is in service to God, nothing belongs to you. Everything is done through the grace of God.  You are important only as far as God can use you.

“Devotion means a tool to demolish yourself, a tool to destroy your intentions, your visions, your dreams, so that you become not a tiny little creature, so that you become a nameless little creature in this cosmos… but you become the very hand of the Divine”-Sadhguru

If your life is in service to humanity, everything you have, say or do is in service to others. It does not belong to you.  This lessens the amount of garbage we have to sift through to see who we really are.

Surrender helps us to let go of our suffering. If I surrender my Yoga practice, my efforts are not mine.  My Mari D is not about me. Whether I bind or not, I surrender the fruits of the pose to Guru, God or whatever I choose. Mari D is not mine. If I borrow something, once I return it, I am done with it.  I am not thinking, “Geez, I wonder what Dad did with that hammer I borrowed?” Only if I think the hammer should be mine,  would I be upset. If I think the bind in Mari D is mine, if I lose that bind, I get upset. If I see Mari D as a mirror that I borrow so that I can see myself or a pose I borrow to experience my body, I don’t suffer. I use it and give it back.

Some surrender to the Guru as a personification of the path of Yoga. This can be scary but if the below criteria is met, it is safe.

“What you refer to as the Guru and what you refer to as the path are not different. One is personified, another is not, but they are the same thing. If they are different, they are no good.”-Sadhguru


“If you become a devotee, it does not matter whether you are devoted to one god or another, to a monkey or a buffalo, as long as you are devoted. Because you are devoted, you will be transformed – not by the god, but by your devotion. If you fall in love with someone, the person you fall in love with may be an idiot, but because you are in love, something about you becomes beautiful. The advantage of falling in love with a god is he will not disappoint you. Human beings invariably disappoint you, not because something is wrong with them, but because your expectations are unrealistic – it is impossible for anyone to live by them.”- Sadhguru, Ishtadevata-Reality or Hallucination


Why It is Important?

Surrender is seen as one of the easiest paths to freedom. Since nothing belongs to you, you are not building attachments or an “I”.

“A devotee knows things that you cannot even imagine. He can grasp things that you have to struggle with because there is not much of him within himself. When you are too full of self, there is no room for anything higher to happen.”-Sadhguru, Bhakti.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.


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