Tag Archives: 8 Limbs of Yoga

Trust + Surrender: The Art of Letting Go

“Stop fighting and resisting. Try something different – surrender.” – Rumi


Four years ago, I found myself at an ashram in Thailand, studying yoga and meditation. I arrived disoriented from heartbreak, dizzy with confusion, incredibly lost and feeling alone. I had been practicing, and teaching yoga for years already, but recent life events left my mind turbulent, my heart shattered and my body locked up like a box.

At this training in the jungle on a foreign island, I held my sad, beaten heart in my hands and presented it to my teachers. They consoled me, and told me that even when I felt like I was suffocating in meditation, to just keep gently breathing into that tender spot in the center of my chest.

“It will open and heal,” they promised.

After a month of intense practice, Asana, (yoga postures,) Sadhana, (daily spiritual practice,) meditation and journaling, we sealed our time together with a closing ceremony. A fire homa they called it. It smelled like incense and the fire they created with palm leaves was warm and bright. Our teachers dotted the space between our eyebrows with sacred ash, red turmeric and sandalwood— or something like that.

At the end, we were given small slips of paper, and were asked to write our Sankalpa, our intention, that we would like to carry with us into the year ahead.

Almost instinctively, my heart traveled down my arm, through my hand and into my grip on the pen, and begged for surrender.

“I am opening up in sweet surrender,” it wrote.

At that time, I really didn’t know what it meant for me, or how this nine letter word would present itself in my life for a whole year.

I devoted myself, and my life to that intention. In times I found myself anxious and worried, tightening my grip on life, and structuring how things ought to be, I soothed myself with this word— surrender. This word dissolved my armor, it woke up my sleepy eyes, and finally, my heart broke open.

Literally, in meditation one day, a cracking sound thundered from the bones of my sternum followed by a flood of blissful tears flowing from my face.

Surrender unchained me from myself. I opened up to the whole Universe, and the Universe opened up to me.

In Sanskrit, we call the concept of surrender Ishvara Pranidhana. Surrendering (Pranidhana) to a higher source; to the Divine (Ishvara.) Beautiful.

“Surrender is the intersection between acceptance, and change.” – Unknown

With all of my heart, I know that surrender is not submission. It is not backing down. It is not irresponsible, laziness, passivity or being unambitious. It does not mean ‘giving in’ nor does it mean ‘losing’ control or a battle.

The only thing you will lose by surrendering, is frustration, bondage and suffering.

The art of surrender is means to yielding to the flow of life with radical acceptance, ease and grace. Surrender is the opening of our hearts to the unknown, and trusting with faith in the Perfect unfolding of Now. Surrender is a process of letting go of the ‘small’ Self to the ‘big’ Self in each moment. Surrender is an opportunity to tune into the qualities of openness and receptivity to invite total freedom and peace into our lives. Surrender is Freedom.


+ Acceptance | Resistance
+ Being | Doing
+ Releasing | Grasping
+ Openness | Closedness
+ Softness | Security
+ Yielding | Resisting
+ Fluidity | Rigidity
+ Ease | Effort
+ Flow | Stagnation
+ Flexibility | Breakable


1. Release how you think things ought to be, and appreciate things as they are. Surrender the expectation that something is wrong if it doesn’t go according to your plan.

2. Steep in the Bliss of simply Being, instead of always doing.

3. Let go of ego, expectation, judgement and attachment- to outcomes, to things, to people, to ideas or concepts.

4. Surrender to the Truth of your Experience in every moment – whatever that is. In this moment there may be happiness, frustration, contentment, anger, joy, shame, gratitude or grief. There is nothing personal about your thoughts or emotions. They are simply phenomena passing through your awareness. Allow these experiences to come and go- without resisting displeasurable ones, or clinging to pleasurable ones.

5. Give yourself the permission to really feel what you feel, because what you feel, you heal. What we resist, persists. And while emotions and thoughts aren’t personal, they are valuable pieces of information. Pain informs Strength. Confusion informs Clarity. Failure informs Wisdom. Grief informs Compassion. And so on.

6. Open yourself up to the Perfect Bliss of Now, instead of resisting it or wishing life were any other way than it is. Wholeheartedly engage with each and every moment, as it is, and recognize the Absolute Perfection in it all.

7. Have faith and trust that you always have been, always are, and you always will be supported by Life. You are living proof that you’ve survived every moment of your life so far – and will continue to thrive. Life gives us precisely what we need in each and every moment for our hearts to open and souls to Awaken. Trust that you are exactly where you need to be. Surrender to the process and have faith that all is perfect.

8. Be open to the possibility that something may be greater than you alone and what you are able to control. Surrender your fear and pain, and witness something far greater than that which the fear was trying to protect.

You are not a salmon, so stop swimming up stream. Practice Ishvara Pranidhana. Go with the Perfect Flow of Life. Surrender to what is. Surrender in pigeon pose. Surrender to love. Surrender, and Be Free.

How can you surrender to move through life with peace, ease, grace and fluidity?

The Yogi Code: The Yamas

The Yamas are the founding principles of the 8 Limbs of Yoga outlined in the Yoga Sutras summarized by Patanjali. They are the foundation of living a conscious and yogic life. The Yamas are external disciplines— a sum of ethical practices, values and virtues available to us so we may interact, relate and co-exist peacefully with all beings and with the planet.


The Yamas can be broken down into 5 specific areas; Ahimsa (non-harming,) Satya (truthfulness,) Asteya (non-stealing,) Brahmachara (continence,) Aparigraha (non-possessiveness.)


Lets further explore the qualities of the Yamas, these values and virtues to live more peaceful lives both on and off the mat.

1.AHIMSA: non-harming, non-violence, non-aggression, compassion, forgiveness, kindness— love.

2. SATYA: truthfulness, honesty, sincerity. Being truthful in thought, word and deed. Living one’s truth; sacred purpose or dharma.

3. ASTEYA: non-stealing. Take only what is offered and use only what is needed.

4. BRAHMACHARYA: moderation and continence. Preservation of vital energy. Exerting one’s energy wisely. Sexual responsibility or celibacy.

5. APARIGRAHA: non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-hoarding, non-collection, non-gluttony, non-attachment.

By practicing the Yamas, you can advance your yoga to the next level by transforming yoga from a simple practice, into your way of life. May these ethical practices of yoga guide you deeper into the essence of yoga and transform your yoga practice both on the mat, and off the mat into the world.

How do you practice the Yamas – on the mat and off the mat? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. <3


The Yogi Code | The 8 Limbs of Yoga

The 8 Limbs of Yoga are outlined in detail in the roughly two thousand year old texts, the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. These ancient texts are much like a yogis’ handbook; an instruction manual on how to live a happy, fulfilling, spiritual and peaceful life.

There is so much more to yoga than the familiar physical practice of yoga poses. There is a whole system to it, a yogi’s code, full of observances, ethics, practices and restraints to inspire you to embrace yoga as a lifestyle and help you navigate through life with ease.

1. Yama: Ethical practices to interact with the outer world.

The Yamas and Niyamas are the foundation of the 8 limbs of yoga, and are valuable steps to living a conscious life. They are a sum of values and virtues available to us, so we may relate with and co-exist peacefully with all beings, ourselves and with the planet. They can be broken down into 5 specific areas each:

a. Ahimsa: non-violence, non-aggression, compassion, forgiveness, kindness— love.
b. Satya: truth, honesty, sincerity, living your truth; your sacred purpose or dharma.
c. Asteya: non-stealing, take only what is offered – use only what is needed.
d. Brahmacharya: preservation of vital life force energy.
e. Aparigraha: non-greed, non-hoarding, non-collection, non-gluttony.

2. Niyama: A moral code of observances to cultivate a positive relationship with ones self and inner world.

a. Saucha: purity, cleanliness
b. Santosha: contentment, the art of being happy for no particular reason
c. Tapas: austerity, self-discipline, passion
d. Svhadyaya: Self-study, awareness of the Self, study of texts.
e. Isvara Pranidhana: devotion to divinity, celebrating the divinity and oneness within all beings, surrender to faith, contemplation of a higher power.

3. Asana: Yoga Poses

This is what we tend to think of yoga as in the west; people twisting their body into unique shapes. The physical yoga postures are only one limb of the 8 limbs of yoga which is the entire system and practice of yoga. Yoga poses, asanas’, care for our physical bodies; the vessel that our spirit resides in throughout this lifetime. Yoga poses strengthen and open our bodies, so we can be comfortable and healthy in our bodies, and so we are able to sit for periods of time in meditation.

4. Pranayama: Breathing Practices

The breath is critical for sustaining life. In yoga, we perform breathing exercises and techniques to circulate and direct our prana, the life force energy within all living beings and to calm and balance the mind and body.

5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal from senses.

After practicing yoga for a period of time, we naturally begin to withdraw from our sensory experience, meaning from the experiences of our 5 outward senses, and our attention is drawn inward, focusing on our inner experience.

6. Dharana: Concentration

When we concentrate, we free the mind of senseless chatter. We experience mental clarity. In yoga, we practice focus, observation and concentration. Our focus can be directed either inwardly (like in yoga nidra on various parts of the body, or outwardly, by finding our drishti, a single point of focus to gaze upon, to help us balance in yoga poses.

7. Dhyana: Meditation

Meditation is a state of being; it is an experience of nothingness and infinity simultaneously, without effort or thought. It is zen. It is absorption into pure silence and stillness. Everyone experiences meditation in many different ways. For some of us, it’s gazing into the heart of a setting sun, for others it is through dance, or through art. It is the experience of being so deeply absorbed into what is happening. It is thoughtless, and timeless.

8. Samadhi: Bliss | Enlightenment

Bliss, or enlightenment, is the ultimate goal of yoga. Bliss occurs through the transcendence of the ego. Upon the divine realization of the ultimate oneness of all. It is the purest state of being.

Your Yogi Challenge:

I invite you to practice the 8 limbs of yoga. Begin with the Yamas. Study them. Learn them. Memorize them. And practice them every day for a week, both on and off the mat. Master them. And the following week, move on to the Niyamas. Then asana. And so on, until you yourself, experience Divine Bliss.

These 8 Limbs of Yoga, from the Yamas to Samadhi, are like a pyramid or stepping stones to living a happy, fulfilling, peaceful and spiritual life. Allow the 8 Limbs of Yoga, this Yogi Code, to be your compass as you navigate through life.