What Does It Mean to Surrender in Yoga or Meditation Practice?

We enjoy feeling like we have control. In the West, we’ve grown up in a culture that tells us we’ll be what we want and get what we want if we just work hard enough. We hustle, we fight, we grind, and sometimes, we come out on top. When we don’t, it can be a harsh awakening. Many of us are drawn to spiritual practices like yoga or meditation to make sense of the groundlessness we feel when things don’t go the way we planned. Yet we bring our same ego, desire for control, and war-like work ethic to our mats and our cushions. We approach yoga and meditation in the same mistaken way we approach our lives.
Chief Editor Insight Timer Blog
how to surrender
Chief Editor Insight Timer Blog

Surrender all effort. Surrender into the sensation. Surrender completely.

Many a yoga teacher have drilled this into us during our practices. But what does it mean to surrender? This article explores how and why we need to truly let go and surrender. Learn the teachings behind the concept and discover guided practices that teach you how to surrender in yoga and meditation.

Key takeaways

  • Understand surrender: Explore the meaning of Isvara Pranidhana and how it relates to The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • Learn how to let go: Discover how to surrender your ego and embrace the ultimate reality.
  • Adapt the teachings: Apply the concept of surrendering to your yoga and meditation and learn why your practice will benefit.

Dive right in! Sarah Blondin, thought leader and creator behind “Live Awake,” has created an effective, 4.8-star guided session on learning to surrender.

The meaning of surrender in the Yoga Sutras: Isvara Pranidhana 

The Yoga Sutras, a collection of ancient philosophical teachings compiled by the sage Patanjali, serve as a foundational text for the practice of yoga and outline a systematic approach to spiritual development and self-realization. 

In it, Master Patanjali outlines the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The second limb is the Niyamas — the ethical principles to be practiced in daily life. One of the Niyamas is Isvara Pranidhana.

  • “Isvara” translates to the higher power, true self, or ultimate reality 
  • “Pranidhana” translates to surrender, offer, dedicate, or devote.  

Therefore, the Sanskrit word Isvara Pranidhana is understood as the complete surrender of self to a higher power.

Within this Niyama, Patanjali is not teaching failure or giving up. Instead, it is meant to let go, accept reality, and yield to your experiences. Surrender and turning inwards, one must release the desires of the ego and embrace devotion to, depending on beliefs, God, or ultimate reality.

How to surrender efforts and the ego

We’re so accustomed to an ego-driven culture that idealizes control. Pushing ourselves to achieve a desired outcome or clinging to an expectation we have set for ourselves. 

However, true surrender calls for a shift in perspective and approach, requiring a letting go of this constant striving and a surrendering of the ego’s need for control. 

It’s about recognizing that our efforts alone cannot dictate the course of reality. 

Surrendering invites us to trust the natural unfolding of things, to let go of the illusion of control, and to yield to the present moment as it is. It teaches us that letting go isn’t a sign of weakness or defeat but rather a divine act of humility and acceptance. 

By releasing the grip of the ego and surrendering to the flow of reality, we open ourselves to a deeper experience of peace, freedom, and inner knowing. It’s through this surrender that we find true liberation and connection with the divine essence within ourselves and all beings.

Explore the meaning of surrender by enjoying this playlist of guided surrender meditations by popular teachers. These practices help you to connect with what this word makes you feel and how it impacts your life.

How to surrender in yoga and meditation

It’s not enough to just say: “Surrender.” Like anything, we really do need skills and guidance to learn how to approximate and then to do these things. Over time, the experience of many people across many traditions have found ways to support this important practice. Many of our meditation teachers have walked the path you’re on and are eager to support you. 

When you’re learning how to surrender, try this:

  • Set an intention. Shift the focus away from personal desires and towards a more selfless intention.
  • Cultivate a sacred space. Let your space and practice be free from distractions. Commit to being present and in tune when on your yoga mat. 
  • Practice non-judgemental awareness. Release all expectations. Allow yourself to surrender to the unfolding experience without attachment to or judgment of outcomes.
  • Listen to yourself. Rest when you need to rest, move when you need to move.
  • Stay curious. When faced with discomfort or resistance, instead of avoiding or reacting, lean into the sensation and inquire into its nature. 
  • Embrace vulnerability. Open yourself fully to the present moment and your authentic experience.
  • Cease effort. Let go of the urge to strive and achieve. Let your body and breath guide you through your practice.
  • Dedicate your results. Offer the fruits of your efforts to someone or something greater than yourself, whether it be a loved one, a higher power, or the ultimate reality.

Feeling discomfort when letting go? Isabelle Pikörn explores why personal and spiritual growth is so uncomfortable.

What is Surrender Yoga?

“Surrender yoga” is not a widely recognized term within the traditional practice of yoga. However, it may refer to a concept or approach within certain styles or interpretations of yoga philosophy and practice.

In a broader sense, “surrender yoga” could be understood as a mindset or attitude of letting go and surrendering to the present moment, accepting things as they are without resistance. This could involve surrendering control, expectations, or attachments, and embracing a sense of trust in the unfolding of life.

In this way, any yoga poses or practices that are done in the effort of cultivating a release of ego and letting go can be considered surrender yoga. 

It’s important to note that interpretations of yoga can vary widely, and what “surrender yoga” means to one person or teacher may differ from another. As with any aspect of yoga, it’s valuable to approach the concept with an open mind and explore how it resonates with your own practice and understanding.

What are the best surrendering yoga poses for mental clarity, focus, and letting go? 

You may choose to prioritize the practice of surrendering with any asana. However, the postures that encourage you to surrender through grounding, releasing tension, and connection with the breath include:

  • Corpse Pose (Savasana)
  • Child’s Post (Balasana)
  • Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
  • Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
  • Seated meditation in Easy Pose or Lotus Pose (Sukhasana or Padmasana)

Learn the meaning of savasana and why we should be practicing it more.

What are the benefits of practicing surrender yoga poses and surrender meditation? 

In some spiritual traditions, surrender is seen as a path to inner peace and spiritual growth, allowing individuals to release the ego’s grip and connect with a deeper sense of self or higher power.

Yoga and meditation are powerful ways to cultivate this state, and they offer some real benefits.

Physical benefits

  • Relaxation: Evidence shows that Surrender yoga and meditation promote deep relaxation by releasing muscle tension and fostering calmness
  • Flexibility: Holding yoga poses improves flexibility by gently stretching muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues.
  • Improved circulation: The supported inversions and gentle twists in a surrender yoga flow will enhance blood circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, according to recent studies.
  • Pain relief: Surrender practices such as restorative yoga utilize supportive props in gentle poses which can provide relief for those experiencing injuries or chronic pain. Furthermore, research indicates that meditation and mindfulness can literally change how we perceive pain.

Mental benefits

  • Stress reduction: Science supports mindfulness-based activities, like yoga, for activating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest response), reducing stress hormones and promoting relaxation.
  • Increased mindfulness: This practice fosters present-moment awareness, heightening mindfulness of bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions.
  • Emotional healing: As is common in yin yoga classes, surrender practices can facilitate the release of pent-up emotions and tension.
  • Enhanced mental clarity: According to National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology, surrendering to the present moment during a yoga practice encourages improved mental clarity and focus by letting go of distractions. 
  • More patience: A meditation or a yoga sequence of poses that focuses on letting go requires patience and endurance. This helps with resilience in facing the challenges of daily life.
  • Letting go of attachments: Surrender is part of many Buddhist teachings on how to let go of attachments, be calm and even-tempered, and accept the temporary nature of life.

Learn more: Check out our helpful guide on detachment and why we all should practice it.

how to surrender and accept


The wisdom of ishvara Pranidhana taught in yoga philosophy extends beyond the yoga mat and into daily life. Surrendering requires us to relinquish the perpetual pursuit and the ego’s insistence on control, thereby promoting trust in the organic unfolding of the ultimate reality. Through surrender, practitioners cultivate mindfulness, presence, and inner peace, embracing all that reality brings their way.

  1. The Energy Of Surrender Bethany Auriel-Hagan 4:42
  2. Learning To Surrender Sarah Blondin 8:07
  3. Surrender To The Breath (Extended) Gemma Gambee Lewis 19:08
  4. Surrender To The Silence Within davidji 16:50
  5. Yoga Nidra: Surrender Lynette Suchar 33:45
  6. Morning Meditation: Surrender, Allow & Trust (S.A.T.) Vanessa Loder 11:45

Surrender yoga FAQs

What are the ending words for yoga?

While a yogi may finish their yoga practice with whatever feels right for them, it’s common to conclude a practice with specific words or phrases that honor the tradition, express gratitude, and offer blessings. One of the most traditional ending phrases commonly used is “Namaste.” This Sanskrit word is often spoken with hands pressed together at the heart center, and it signifies a respectful greeting or farewell, acknowledging the divine light within each individual. Not everyone is comfortable with this, however. It’s helpful to read up to understand why saying “namaste” can be controversial.  

Another common closing phrase is “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.” “Om” is considered the universal sound and represents the essence of the ultimate reality. “Shanti” means peace. Therefore, “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti” is a prayer for peace on all levels — physical, mental, and spiritual.

Which yoga practice is best for surrendering?

Ultimately, the best yoga practice for surrendering will depend on individual preferences, needs, and physical abilities. However, some practices are considered more accessible to beginners to the practice of surrendering, as opposed to a more dynamic yoga class such as Vinyasa or Hatha. Great examples of surrender yoga are:

For example, a yin yoga class will have you holding passive yoga poses for an extended period, often 1-5 minutes. These postures target the deeper connective tissues of the body by letting go of muscular effort and finding stillness in each asana, allowing for a deep release and surrender both physically and mentally. 

Start your journey with surrender yoga by exploring this free library of guided yin yoga practices. 

How does practicing surrender in yoga benefit your overall well-being?

Practicing surrender in yoga is like letting go of worries and learning to go with the flow. It helps you feel calm and relaxed, like when you take a deep breath and feel better. Surrendering also makes you stronger inside, so you can handle tough stuff and feel happier. It’s like giving your mind and heart a big hug.

People who strive to surrender in mindfulness-based practices often report:

  • Feeling calm and relaxed
  • Handling tough situations better
  • Being happier
  • Building inner strength
  • Feeling more at peace


Kiran, Arora, A. K., Kaur, D., Ghay, R., Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, & Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences & Research. (2011). IMPACT OF MEDITATION ON AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM-A RESEARCH STUDY. International Journal of Basic and Applied Medical Sciences, 144–148. 

Nayak, N. N., & Shankar, K. (2004). Yoga: a therapeutic approach. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, 15(4), 783–798. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmr.2004.04.004 

Prasad, L., Varrey, A., & Sisti, G. (2016). Medical Students’ Stress Levels and Sense of Well Being after Six Weeks of Yoga and Meditation. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/9251849 

Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.). Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23266-parasympathetic-nervous-system-psns 

 P, S. J. P., Manik, K. A., & Sudhir, P. (2018). Role of yoga in attention, concentration, and memory of medical students. National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 8(9), 1526. https://doi.org/10.5455/njppp.2018.8.0723521082018 

Rivest-Gadbois, E., & Boudrias, M. (2019). What are the known effects of yoga on the brain in relation to motor performances, body awareness and pain? A narrative review. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 44, 129–142. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2019.03.021 

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