SANTOSHA is one of the Niyamas (self-discipline practice) described often in the Yoga Sutras from Patanjali, where five Niyamas are mentioned; like Hatha Yoga Pradikipa, where Swami Svatmarama describes ten niyamas.
The niyamas are disciplines, a way of applying ethical yoga codes to the body, mind and soul of the practitioner. This helps create an internal climate, ideal for reducing obstacles on the journey to personal growth. Awareness and practice of the niyamas gives the Sadhka (practitioner) the inner strength, integrity, clarity and discipline necessary to progress on their spiritual journey.
Santosha come from SAM (which means completely) and TOSHA (which means contentment or acceptance). It translates into being satisfied, pleased, and happy with what we have; we end up with: ‘complete acceptance’. That acceptance is projected onto everything that we are and that we have, at all times in our lives; it must not be confused with conformism, as this would imply resigning, or putting up with what we don’t like, it also implies apathy, anger or resentment towards the undesired outcome. Santosha is pro-active, self-responsibility; acting according to what we feel is convenient for our BEING, is integral, it is related to the satisfaction of being on the journey or personal Dharma.
Santosha is a practice with different levels:
- Sankalpa: using your best intentions and focusing your energy on the action.
- Internal: Contentment opens you up to other virtues like compassion, empathy, detachment from the result of the action, and abundance.
- External: External manifestation allows you to walk with joy, serenity, feel with authenticity, and act from a place of total satisfaction.
The yogi accepts any situation, whether it be pleasure, pain, failure or success. They experience, feel and transcend…there is no attachment to that situation. It isn’t about not feeling, it’s about getting through the experience consciously, with faith that sooner or later, it will become a lesson; and with perspective we will see the transformation and evolution, thanks to this lived experience.
For the Sadhaka, happiness does not depend on reaching goals or changing aspects of oneself. Santosha implies accepting oneself and accepting the situation one finds oneself in. As soon as we have accepted and lived the experience, the transformation occurs. It is us who gives true value to the hand that we are dealt. Even in adverse circumstances, you are at your center. With Santosha comes a feeling of surrender and trust in life, understanding that there are things that are in our hands and others that transcend our capabilities.
With self-observation, external influences disappear, you can be in your purest state, aware of fears and introjection. This is considered an essential part of spiritual development, and Svadhyaya (study of oneself) is the compass of our true SELF.
Santosha is celebrating that life provides the necessary to sustain our BEING, even though it will obviously not satisfy the expectations of our ego. Santosha is the capacity to be grateful to life, just for the mere fact of existing, it’s an attitude and a state of being.
Santosha on the yoga mat
Sometimes it’s difficult to accept that we can’t do the pose (asana) that we want to do. Being satisfied with where we stand, what we have achieved, and advance from there, is the key for a healthy yoga practice that will create a real and profound transformation.
In Hatha Yoga, ASANA means a way of being and feeling in each pose, and each moment of the practice. It requires responsibility from each of us, to adjust the practice to your needs at the vital moment, without wanting to surpass the limit.
When you are practicing on the mat, observe yourself with a kindness, innocence and happiness, like that of a child. From there, appreciate yourself for what you are and for what you can do, respect the stories that are imprinted in your cells, feel grateful for your marvelous body and the stage that you have reached. When you let go of the idea of having to be more flexible or strong, then the energy flows in your favour, thanks to Santosha.
Find satisfaction in each practice, be grateful for the benefits that you are receiving, and feel privileged for having the opportunity to practice yoga with joy.
Nora Ávila – Chandra Ibiza
FB: Chandra Ibiza
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