For those of you who have attended any of my classes, you may have heard me utter these words..once or twice or thrice before. For those of you who have attended my Pre-natal yoga classes or workshops, you have definitely heard me preach these words maybe hundreds of times before! in my first few years I used to pronounce and speak these words incorrectly… stating confidently to my students ishvarIPranIdhaRa… unbeknownst to me completely wrong pronunciation and spelling…. but we all got the drift. I think, I hope.
This Sanskrit statement literally tanslates to ‘surrender to the universal flow’. I surrender to the rythyms of the universe, I trust and slip gently into the flowing river of life and surrender. I trust. I surrender. It is my life motto and I continually and constantly come back to it. It is such a great mantra to repeat whenever we feel stuck, anxious, fearful and in a space of wanting to control every outcome and situation. It is therefore perfect for Pregnancy and labor, both such uncontrollable situations, where we literally have no choice but to step back and practice Ishvara Pranidhana. However most of us try with effort to birth, we push through, we grit our teeth, we clench our jaw, we try harder, we want the baby out faster, quicker, We tell our baby come before Christmas, after Christmas, after ive cleaned the house and finished your room. We want a natural birth, a caesarean birth, a drug fuelled birth, a water birth… We try to have some sort of control over an unpredictable situation.
Now I am not saying there arent things we can do, plans we can put in place, to allow our labour, or our life, to flow in a direction we kind of want it to go in. we definitely can. But, we need to be soft on our ideals, wants and desires, and practice Ishvara Pranidhana. For when we surrender, totally and completely, we soften, our body softens, and then the magic can unfold…the labour, or the life, which awaits us can naturally unfold before us.
During my second pregnancy I was classified as high risk, I had many complications (I used the word special circumstances – which instantly made me feel more calm than being called high risk at every appointment!) and they wouldn’t let me go over my due date without me really kicking up a fuss. Something I thought about for a while, but a fight with Drs, at 38 weeks pregnant, was something I didn’t want to spend my energy on. so I surrendered.
I went in to be induced, broke my waters… nothing happened. I ran up and down the stairs, the hills, I bounced on the fit ball, I used breast pumps, clary sage and even some techniques I wont say in public 😉 nothing happened. The Drs threatened the drip, the midwives said I had the right to refuse. back and forth, back and forth. the tension in my room was INTENSE to say the least. not how I pictured my calm zen 2nd labour.
I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes. He saw me. he knew what I needed, and I will be forever grateful for what he did next. He told everyone, the Drs, the nurses, the midwives, to GET OUT. they left. it was just us. and it was in this quiet space that I could surrender. surrender to the situation, and surrender to what needed to be done to get my baby out. I sat down on the floor, closed my eyes and meditated. I silently chanted Ishvara Pranidhana, I surrounded myself and my baby in white light. I softened. I relaxed. I let go. And that was the turning point of that labour, we decided to have the drip, the contractions begun, I kept surrendering to them, I allowed them to wash over me, and our second son was born peacefully in the water an hour or two later. it was magical. and it was because I could peacefully enter the state of surrender.
When we surrender, we soften, not just in labour, but in life. We are able to relax and release the need to control. The current of life will take us to magical places beyond out wildest dreams, if we just surrendered. When we are tired, rest. When we have energy, play. When we are sick, slow down and give space to healing. When we are well embrace life and give to others. When we are hungry eat, thirsty drink. when we are sad cry, happy, laugh. when we need help, ask. when we are asked, help. Slip into the rhythm, give up the fight, that need for control and allow yourself to drift peacefully, wholeheartedly, along the river of life. Ishvara Pranidhana.