My Theme: Yoga. For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200. As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.
Ishvarapranidhana is a Sanskrit word meaning (roughly) to lay one's practice at the feet of god. It is one of the five Niyamas (ethical instructions) of the eight-limbed path (more on that later in the alphabet!) Despite it's difficult pronunciation it has a rather practical meaning.
Every yoga class is different. No matter how many times you go, no matter how much you practice, no matter how bad-ass your downward-facing dog pose may be there is always a limit to what you can do. Some of this is pure genetics- not all humans are shaped the same. (And no, I don't mean some are short or tall or fat or thin I mean people have differently shaped joints, bones and other unchangeable factors that make them quite different from the next person.) Some of it is incidental (injuries, aging and the like that prevent the body from moving the way it used to). Some of it is simple limitations of the day in which you are practicing (i.e. you might not have the best yoga class ever when your life is exploding and there's nothing you can do about it).
All of it means that on any given day, for any given number of reasons you will reach a point in practice where you can't go any further- that's the deepest expression of the pose, that's as far as your body can bend that way, that's as good as you can focus with all those life altering worries plaguing you. Ishvarapranidhana is coming to that place and accepting it- this is all I can do. It's a mindful awareness that you have done everything you can do and it does not involve judgement, disappointment or negativity of any kind- because it's not a bad thing. It's simply what is.
On the mat, it comes when you allow yourself to fall back into child's pose or take an extra few breaths or finally lie down in savasana. Off the mat (in real life) it comes when we are smart enough to realize that we're hitting our heads against the proverbial brick wall and finally try another tactic. Or when we allow the experience to be what it authentically is without getting tied up in what we want it to be or had planned for. Or when we let go of the parts our life that have ended and make space for new parts to begin. Or when we look at ourselves in the mirror with all of our mistakes, less-thans and limitations and love ourselves exactly as we are because we realize that we are exactly what, where and how we're meant to be.
This is one of the most fundamentally important concepts of yoga to practice in everyday life. And what your body can and can't do is only the tiniest portion of it.