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Swadhyaya & Ishvara Pranidhana by Julie Parvati Hillman

By Santosha Yoga

SUN JAN 09, 2022

How appropriate that the last of the Niyamas come in time for a new year newsletter. This time of year is full of resolutions, intentions, and goal setting. These require us to look at what we want to change and what we want to nurture in our lives. We look at our behaviors and activities to determine what serves us best, and what we need to let go. These are all forms of self-study: Swadhyaya.

Although Patanjali approached Swadhyaya in a spiritual sense, we can also use self-study in a more secular, everyday sense in terms of post-holiday self-care. As we set our direction for 2022, if we want to be successful we must look at ourselves deeply, and thoroughly. If we keep setting the same resolutions, for example, we must look at why we keep making the same ones. Is it because we didn’t reach our goals? Is it because we fell off track early on last year? What did we do – or not do – that created those results (or lack of results)? Is this resolution truly in our best interest? Is there something that might be more fulfilling to focus on? These are just some of the questions we need to ask ourselves to ensure that the resolutions/intentions/goals we set for 2022 have a chance at manifesting. Personally, I am reviewing the opportunities that presented themselves in 2021 and exploring new ways that I can make them grow in 2022. I will use the information I gather from this self-inquiry to set my goals and intentions for 2022.

And when all is done, I will hand over my goals and intentions to the Universe. Ishvara Pranidhana translates as “surrender to god.” I used to think this was a way of saying a situation was out of our control – it’s in God’s hands now. However, I now see it more akin to asking god to assist in manifesting the outcome that I desire. In my example above, I can ask God to help me grow new opportunities from the ones that appeared for me in 2021 – I still need to do my work, though. It’s like keeping my end of a deal.

Another translation of Ishvara Pranidhana is “dedicating all actions to god.” We can take our resolutions/intentions/goals and dedicate them to god (God, Brahman, Universe, whatever you choose to call it). Imagine the feeling of having every action you perform to reach your goals/intentions/resolutions dedicated to god? It’s like all your efforts themselves are an offering to the divine.

As you set your sights on all that 2022 has in store, don’t forget to look within. Explore why you do (or want to do) what you do. Dedicate, offer, your actions to god – or humanity itself – and move forward into 2022 with grace and purpose.

Thank you for allowing me to share practical ways these ancient principles, the Yamas and Niyamas, can aid us in creating a stress-free holiday and a stress-less life. If you want to read more, you can find your copy of Becoming Parvati here.