We are officially into March. Both of my kids were born this month and I’m always reminded of this time of birth and renewal. Our theme this month of March will be exploring one of the ethical principles of Yoga in the niyamas called santosha which means complete contentment or acceptance. The niyamas are an important part of our yoga practice as they represent a shift in emphasis from the external/behavior to internal/attitude.
Santosha is about actively cultivating appreciation for what we already have. Contentment shouldn’t be confused with laziness or passivity. In fact, in the Yogic view, it is exactly the opposite: being appreciative of who we are and what we have actually helps us achieve the physical and mental state from which it is most effective and powerful to act. When we let go of the need to control or change our external situation we open and allow space for something new to emerge.
I have been in deep practice with this in the last weeks here in California. Things haven’t turned out the way we expected. We are living in a small villa, on top of each other without any personal space and at times I want to pull my hair out. Change is never easy. This is a big change for us as a family. But the more I fight against it, the harder it seems to get. When I consciously practice santosha it helps me to pause and appreciate things as they are; I am able to relax inside and see a different perspective.
How we can apply santosha on and off our mat may look like giving up our need to be somewhere or someone we are not and just be with ourselves in the moment. To rest inside ad listen to the breath and feel the body softening. Santosha invites us to pause, open our eyes a little more and accept ourselves just as we are. From there, we can see a much broader view of the world.