The next limb we'll explore, is the fifth and final tenet of the Niyamas... Dedication to Ishvara.
Dedication to Ishvara is the willingness to surrender and dedicate our inner work to the highest and deepest expression of the Self. It's a profound honoring of the unwavering web of existence that connects us to something more than ourselves and to each other.
Ishvara is known as "God" or the "incomparable seed of all insight and wisdom, the teacher of all sages and seers" (Ravindra, 2009, p. 28). As the profound essence that is alive within, Ishvara is unaffected by life's circumstances and untouched by our karmic grooves. In surrendering to this deep essence of love, one does not have to give up everything and become a monk meditating in the mountains, but perhaps rather reorganize some priorities in life to make space for this devotion.
When one is deeply invested in physical wealth and external accumulation without the awareness or dedication to the deepest and highest essence of life, what is the focus? What is the striving meant to accomplish?
On the path of yoga (specifically tantra yoga), true freedom resides within. The work is not to find the truth out there somewhere, but rather to unwrap the karmic grooves of the ego's hold with the help of Ishvara's love and guidance, to uncover the deeper Truth that is your essence. This can be a long and sometimes very delicate process of deep psycho-spiritual growth — especially living in a Western society where we are more often distracted by social media and marketing — than supported to delve into the depths of our hearts.
However, as Desikachar (1995) wrote, "what is always important is that we never try to force anything in situations where there seems at first to be no way to move. We must just create space for ourselves, for the mind." (p. 130). So while, you aren't asked to give up all of their possessions or live in poverty (you can be wealthy even!) to develop a relationship with Ishvara, space is needed for this relationship between love and you to be nurtured.
This deep loving relationship can be one of the sweetest teachers on the path of yoga that will guide you towards an existence that perhaps may be beyond your wildest dreams. And it all starts with one step, one hope, and one intention to feel a little better today, than you did yesterday, and to hold faith that sometime in the future, you will feel and be even better than you are today.