Within the fundamentals of yoga we follow both the Yama – guidelines for our daily living – and the Niyama – philosophies that focus within our own bodies to maintain harmony and balance. These are daily philosophies which we should bring not only to our asana practice but hold within us in every action and thought from day to day.
Santosha is the second of the five Niyamas. The literal translation from Sanskrit is ‘pure contentment’, however, santosha holds more depth and poetic beauty within its meaning. Santosha is having and maintaining the ability to flow in life, to have sheer awareness of oneself and the external world, to live fully in the present moment, to be happy and at peace.
We live in an age where our minds are constantly distracted; with work, family, stress and the media. We are either living in the past, holding onto sweet memories or past regrets or planning and dreaming for the future. Contentment is in the present; it is only ‘the now’ that truly exists and can only ever exist. When we can focus the mind on the now we can gain full awareness of our whole body, physically, mentally and emotionally, we can fully experience each moment, each sensation and be completely content as life unveils.
It is explained that contentment is something that has to be cultivated – it is a state of mind. It is how we choose to process our thoughts and the obstacles we face throughout life. It requires mental equanimity regarding the positive and the negative energies of life. It is holding an inner balance and harmony as the chapters of life unfold. A mind that has no contentment cannot concentrate.
The practice of santosha helps us to bring our mind to ‘one pointedness’, a state in which our mind is calm and clear, our body relaxed and open. It is what we prepare for through our asana practice and what we aim for during our meditations.
We should try to follow the philosophy of santosha throughout our daily life, however, a good place to start is in our yoga practice. Dedicate your next asana practice to santosha. Use the time to go within. Lose yourself as you synchronise your movement with your breath, gaining full awareness of each position your body flows through. Be aware of each and every sensation you experience and acknowledge every thought that passes through your mind but do not allow yourself to become attached to it. Let your breath be a bridge between body and spirit… a doorway to the present. Through your practice be aware of each moment as it occurs, bringing yourself into a conscious reality. Find peace and blissfulness with every breath as you surrender yourself completely to your practice. This is how we can fully experience life and find our state of tranquility and happiness… our santosha.
About the author
|When she isn’t studying yoga in India or exploring the world, Emma Malarkey teaches at Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat always bringing back new inspiration for the team and guests. Her wide ranging yoga experience means her personal practice and teaching style incorporates many different styles, including traditional hatha, tantra, Mysore ashtanga, sivananda, iyengar, vinyasa, and more modern forms such as yin yoga and Bikram.