Richard Freeman ties all the yamas and niyamas together

One of the many magical moments at last weekend’s Ashtanga Yoga Confluence was when Richard Freeman finished off the talk of the yamas and niyamas by tying them all together.

Richard talked often of “patterns,” something I’m sure we will touch on in days ahead, but this time the operative image is a simpler one: the circle. It all comes together and just keeps on going.

Richard was speaking of the final niyama, Ishvara Pranidhana, which he translated as surrender to “God” as a pretty fair translation.

There’s passive surrender, he noted, such as happens in a contemplative state when one experiences that everything is occurring in Ishvara. The “realization of that allows you to let go of it,” he said. Even parts of you can fade: memories, emotions, thoughts. “These aren’t mine,” you’ll realize. And then you won’t grasp for them … and you can feel where his Buddhist learning comes through, right?

In that moment, you come to understand that the intrinsic nature is pure consciousness or awareness. (Another translation of his for Ishvara.)

Then there’s active surrender, more an “offering.” In this you offer all thoughts and actions to Ishvara. “Let me give, give, give.” (The passive is more a “take, take and take” until you’re connected that way to everything. It’s more of a “please take care of me” perspective or approach.)

At this point, this connection to Ishvara and to everything, you return to the first yama: nonviolence, or Ahimsa, which he broadened out to mean how you relate to others or treat others.

Because in the final niyama, you are others.

Get it?

Posted by Steve

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s