Babies have an easy time experiencing SANTOSA
Before the Updogs and Downdogs…underneath all of the Chatturangas and Urdhva Dhanurasanas, dwells the foundation of our yoga practice – the eight limbs of Patanjali. The second of Patanjali’s eight limbs are The Niyamas. The Niyamas outline five personal observances that lead yogis further along on their path towards enlightenment, or Samadhi – the eighth limb.
Whether or not you consider yourself a yogi, learning about and observing The Niyamas will undoubtedly steer you in a positive and fruitful direction in life. Each of the five Niyamas outlined in The Yoga Sutras are important, but the one that has been resonating with me lately is the concept of Santosa. In his book TEACHING YOGA, Marc Stephens eloquently defines the second Niyama:
“From a place of purity, we become humble and content in the modesty of how
things are, as well as with the past and our sense of future.
Santosa opens us to happiness with who we are and what we presently have.
When we recognize and accept life is an ongoing process for learning, growing,
and evolving, we are more inclined to self-acceptance.”
While there is much happinness to be found in dreaming big and working towards success, it is also very important to enjoy the moment and be thankful for where we are and what we have NOW. Our physical yoga practice is a doorway to Santosa that we can open daily to experience a sense of contentment and peace. Connecting to the breath and body helps to quiet the voice that tells us that we need a bigger house, a nicer car or another Marc Jacobs handbag (at least, this is what MY voice loves to badger me about). No matter how much success you find in this lifetime, there will always be something bigger and better – there will always be someone who has more.
It is immensely valuable to have big ideas and pursue them, but it’s equally important to enjoy the journey and obsess less on the destination. So the next time you’re trying to put your foot behind your head, don’t worry if it actually gets there – just enjoy that sweet stretch you’re feeling in your hip. Try to take that feeling off the mat and into each and every moment so that you experience more peace…more contentment…more Santosa.