Isvara Pranidhana is the last of the Niyamas. Its made up of two words; Isvara, which translates to ‘Supreme Being’, ‘God’, ‘Brahman’, ‘Ultimate reality’ or ‘True Self’ and Pranidhana which means fixing. It’s interpreted as surrendering to the higher self. In other words you can say its about building a deep and trusting relationship with the universe.
As we work our way up the limbs, the yamas and the niyamas we see that they are not placed in random order. The translator of the Sutras, Swami Satchidananda says that if you’re able to master this one Niyama, there is no need to practice an of the others. In order to surrender to your higher self, you must let go of all impurities (saucha), you’ve found contentment(Santosha) in your higher self, you have the discipline(tapas) because your why is so strong and there is no longer any need to study self(Svadhyaya).
In every action, honor the Supreme Being, that is Isvara Pranidhana.
Svadhyaya, the fourth Niyama, meaning ‘self-study’. When reading yogic text you will find there is a difference between ‘self’ and ‘Self’. The self is the false self, whereas the Self is the higher self. In Svadhyaya we practice studying the false self, meaning our physical form, our ego, attachments and identity.
By studying the self we become more aware of our behaviour as it creates a separation between the body- and mind and the Self as the awareness, breaking the illusion that we are the body and mind.
Svadhyaya can be practiced by simply observing your thoughts without engaging in them, or it could be to observe your body as you move from asana to asana, or by questioning your intention behind your behaviour. It could be to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and be curious about how it affect you. You may take a look at your habits and patterns and challenge them.
It is easier to see what we are not, than to see what we are. You may look at Svadhyaya as a practice of eliminating illusions.