Saturday, August 1, 2015

Letting Go (Ishvara Pranidhana)


Today Sponsored Yogini Keyla shares a beautiful reflection on what it means to let go and how it is essential to the practice of Yoga.



Ishvara Pranidhana is a niyama related to letting go and surrendering to the universe.

This has been my theme lately. 

It can translate and mean so many things but for me it helps me with faith. For the past month or so, I've been training under someone who was taught by his uncle and grandfather in traditional/classical yoga, to him it's the correct and authentic form of yoga, all 8 limbs, not just asana which is what is mainly taught in most yoga studios. Yoga was something he grew up with the way I grew up with Salsa music and my grandmother teaching me my first steps of salsa in the kitchen. It was just my culture. Yoga is a way of life and his culture.

I’ve been looking for a teacher like him for some time now. I wanted to know what yoga was like for someone that grew up Indian. Something I would probably learn if I stepped into the country but let’s face it, I can’t make the trip right now. The timing fell right in place as it always does and I landed an awesome teacher that has helped my practice dramatically.
Every day I wake up at dawn and practice. I've never done this in my whole journey as a student and It's taught me so much! I remember in my 200 RYT thinking about being a “real yogini” and waking up at dawn like I was supposed to, to practice kriyas, pranayama and chant but I felt like it was so out of reach! I would never be able to do that. Well, I’m finally finding the consistent discipline in my self-practice and it’s been so effortless. It took me to shift a few things out of my life, but it happened gradually and almost magically.

I’ve always practiced but it was very spastic. I would practice at noon, or the evening, and sometimes would practice for 3 hrs. at 3 am. It was perfect for me at first because it worked with me but It was just all over the place. My free-spirited nature became somewhat of an issue though. It caused me to burn out; it lacked order and balance. My practice reflected it. It wasn’t a bad thing, it was just a mirror that I can look back at now and say oooooh, I was all over the place.

My schedule was extreme, and my classes burnt me out. Yoga wasn’t supposed to have that effect on me. 

It wasn’t the yoga that was the issue. It was me. My yoga practice revealed something very important. I needed balance and change. I needed more than just asana. From teaching 7 days a week for a whole year, I stopped. I dropped my classes, and sadly one class just ended up dropping me. After my favorite studio cutting me out of the schedule, It was time for me to center and work on my own practice. I re-defined my intention.


I'm not interested in having 500 students, and making a living out of teaching yoga. I'm also not interested in selling classes, or selling memberships. The reason why I teach is because I enjoy sharing my practice. 

I started teaching so that I could commit to my own practice, so that I could find more balance. The inspiration that comes from it is like nothing else. Watching people grow around me is what lights me up, and knowing that my light helped a seed sprout fills me up with joy. It is that very exchange that inspires me to move and teach.

It’s been months since I taught at a studio. I’ve come to a place where I was happily practicing on my own but my students have reached out to me. I missed them just as much as they missed me. Honestly speaking, I kept teaching like a mad woman for a whole year because I fell in love with my students and felt guilty for leaving them. Although I felt uncomfortable, and the vibe at a studio was conflicting with me, I stuck around. Then enough was enough. I put in notice and I left without letting my students know. I had no idea how to explain why I was leaving. It wasn’t until I left that students reached out and told me things that explained why I felt as uncomfortable as I did. In that particular situation, Another teacher was talking behind my back. Pure ugliness. What’s funny is that I stayed and thought it was me the whole time. I didn’t listen to my feelings and intuition. I wasn’t centered enough to have confidence in my feelings. I know now that I made the right choice in leaving.


As a teacher, the environment that you choose to hold space in is just as important as the class itself. A studio should feel like home. Like a sanctuary. A place for healing and reflection. When a yogic space is clouded by energies other than healing and comfort then it’s time to make some changes. Letting go of responsibility is a hard thing to do. It may be the right move, and it may not serve you anymore but as a teacher you start to feel like your students are your responsibility. 

Who will guide them if you don’t? What will they think about you if you gave up on your commitment to them and the studio? What if they follow you? Will the studio accuse you of stealing their “customers?"

After re-evaluating a bit and taking a lot of time, I picked out the perfect little meditation space and am ready to teach now. This time only one day a week, and not worried about numbers at all. 

Practicing Ishvara Pranidhana and letting go. 

If someone wants to show up, great, and if not, it’s OK. It’s on my own expense and it’s my own class. I have full faith that if it’s for me, things will flow and grow. I found an environment and a system that works for me and it was only until I let go of the fear of failing a studio and students that it fell into place. I re-defined the way that I wanted to teach and I plan to keep my practice as the number one priority. 

That’s the only way that I can continue to allow yoga to transform and balance out my life and mind. After all, that’s why I practice.

Thank you, Keyla, for this lovely post! Very inspiring for all of us who are teachers and students of yoga.

Note: In the photos above, Keyla is wearing a shirt from Twin Flame and a pair of leggings from Veda Sundara. Namaste.

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