Santosha is the second Niyama, and it roughly translates to “contentment.”
These practices – the Niyamas – are meant to lead us toward a more positive relationship with ourselves. You might have already realized that it’s impossible to have a positive and healthy relationship with someone else if we aren’t right with ourselves first.
Sometimes it feels like, no matter what is going well, we always believe we’ll be happier when something is different. Whether it’s losing weight, getting a new job, meeting a new dating partner or even just getting into a challenging yoga posture – there is something that ‘could be better’ in our lives.
Having the urge to expand and grow, to be healthier and happier is a good thing. But that desire to reach the ‘next level’ becomes negative when we base our sense of happiness on it.
Santosha means accepting and appreciating where we are and what we already have, and moving forward from there.
What does Santosha look like when applied to different parts of your life? Here are some examples:
Santosha in your practice
Have you ever been in a yoga class and had the urge to look around the room to see how everyone else is doing? Maybe you’ve compared yourself - just a little bit – and felt like you’re doing ‘better’ than someone else?
The truth is, whether we can balance perfectly on our hands or whether we find staying in downward facing dog for more than ten breaths a challenge – there will always be further to go and more to explore in our practice. The good news is, we have a lifetime to practice in! There is no deadline for being able to reach a certain ‘level’ of physical practice.
Activity Prompt: In your next session on the mat, set the intention to appreciate yourself for what you are and what you can do, for how far you’ve come and everything you get to look forward to.
Santosha in your life
Chasing after a feeling, a possession or a person becomes exhausting. How long does that joy last once you’ve gotten what you wanted? Getting attached to that temporary feeling of ‘having’ eventually leads to sadness until we find the next goal to focus our happiness on.
Searching outside of ourselves for happiness in any form – purpose, person, or possession – just leads to more searching, but never a feeling of contentment.
We have this very human habit of waiting for happiness because we feel like it’s somehow not okay to be happy with who we are.
Why continue to disregard how awesome you are in favor of reaching toward something you think you’re supposed to be?
We cannot love, trust or live fully until we have enough love inside ourselves.
Journal Prompt: Set an intention to write down ten ways you are awesome, exactly as you are, in the next week. I’d love to hear them, so come share them on my Facebook page!
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