The 5th and final niyama is Ishvara Pranidhana. It means to bow or surrender to God.
Just know that the concept of God being referred to here is likely not the same concept of God that you are familiar with. This God doesn’t intervene in our lives, does not get angry, and does not have any kind of agenda. It exists as Pure Consciousness ... or Ultimate Reality ... and although it doesn't have any effect on our lives, it is omnipresent. It exists in all beings.
The great teacher Ram Dass once suggested that you "treat everyone you meet like God in drag" ... your accountant, your parents, the guy at the gas station, your Starbucks barista ... when you meet anyone, you are meeting with God. Treat them like you are meeting God for goodness' sake! When you recognize the same spark of divinity that resides in you resides in everyone, you wake up the to the reality that you are not separate from anything. We are connected.
At the end of each yoga class when we bow to one another and say 'Namaste', we put ourselves in touch with this idea. 'Namaste' means something like 'The divine light within me sees and bows to the divine light within you.' or 'When you and I bow to our true nature, we are one.'
Practicing Ishvara Pranidhana helps us to see past our own personal dramas and selfish tendencies by reminding us that we are part of something bigger.
Here are some ways you might practice Ishvara Pranidhana both on and off the mat:
Intention: "I acknowledge the spark of divinity in myself and others."
Meditation: Chant 'Om', the sound of all things in the universe; Ultimate Reality; Oneness; Unity
See video below.
On the Mat: Do a yoga nidra practice. Surrender to the moment.
Off the Mat: Treat everyone you meet like God in drag
Amanda Tripp, Yoga/body nerd and woman of a 1000 opinions