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Exploring Yoga Philosophy: Santosha

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

Santosha translates as contentment. The principle of contentment is an important one because it teaches to open ourselves up to the beauty of everything that is around us. The Yamas and the first Niyama - śauca - prepare us for santosha and the ability to feel content and satisfied with all of the beauty of life: the great, the good, the not great and the bad. It's a reminder that life is complete in each moment.

What are Niyamas?

As we saw in the article on the eight limbs of Yoga; in the traditional Yoga system the second aspect of practice is called niyama or inner observances, which helps us build character and guides us to live life in its fullest, most joyful form.

The five niyamas:

  1. Śauca - purity, cleansing

  2. Santosa - contentment

  3. Tapas - work, practice

  4. Svadhyaya - self-study, self-inquiry

  5. Ishvara Pranidhana - surrender the fruits of your actions

How can contentment be applied to our day-to-day?

- I practice gratitude daily to connect to a sense of joy and satisfaction that I can then translate into my everyday life,

- I practice noticing how I tend to move towards things I like and avoid the things I don't like and how much energy I expend doing that,

- In my meditation I connect to a sensation of feeling enough and complete by reminding myself that I can only find fulfillment within myself, not outside of myself.

Let me offer other ways we can practice santosha:

- When I am feeling frustration because something isn't going the way I want, I remind myself that life is perfect as it comes to me right now and emotions are just information if I allow them to arise, exist and pass,

- I notice when thoughts such as "when I have this...I'll feel..." arise and return to contentment and satisfaction,

- I practice doing things for the joy of doing them instead of doing them to achieve a certain result.

Life is filled with beauty, all around, look at nature! Each flower has its own colour, scent, shape and size, each cloud and storm has a purpose and each ray of sunshine too. Us humans, we somehow believe that we have control over life, and we do to some extent: we can control our actions and choices but we cannot control the outcome of our decisions. So contentment is an essential aspect of our spiritual practice; it helps us reduce suffering by staying open and receptive to what is.

Connecting to a sense of deep inner peace and joy; when was the last time you took a walk in nature and opened yourself up fully to the beauty that was there?

Practice Yoga with me in person or online, where we explore ancient themes around philosophy and ways to move our bodies and experience ourselves in ways that help us navigate the modern world.

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