Santosha – relax with what is


This month's yoga focus explanation is brought to you by Power Yoga teacher Jamie Savva.

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
― Laozi

If you didn’t already know, I’m a thinker. I start thinking about tomorrow, then worrying about tomorrow, then deliberating about tomorrow, and planning and organizing and fretting about tomorrow. I continue on by thinking about yesterday: the things I said, the things I should have said, the things I will say next time. Which inevitably brings us back to tomorrow. Ah!

In this world of constant movement and communication, these are realities we all deal with. In fact, to be responsible adults we are expected to plan for the future and deliberate on the past. The trouble is, when we spend so much time in the past or future, we miss out on the only moment that truly exists, RIGHT NOW. Creating a practice of presence can be one of the most difficult to develop, but it is the most important tool in your yoga practitioner tool belt.

Santosha is the second Niyama, or guideline for working within oneself, that focuses on contentment.

Santosha asks of us to release expectations and worries, and find pure love and ease exactly where we are.

If that sounds impossible to you just know you are not alone. Building a relationship within oneself that is supportive, loving, and content is a lifelong journey, not an overnight sensation. When we cultivate a life practice of contentment, we are present to the beautiful gifts it has in store for us. Does that mean we must stop worrying and planning for our future, or stop learning from our past? No. It simply means we must schedule time to plan accordingly and then move on to the present moment. Once we create peace within, there is so much space for possibility and growth.

Contentment has many different faces. The form it takes for you will be vastly different than your neighbor. For one person contentment looks like staying conscious of negative self-talk. For others, it might include finding joy and light in their physical body.

When it comes to our journey within, we must follow our own path, it’s how we build integrity in our hearts, minds and bodies.

If you are familiar with my classes, you will know what comes first: How can I create and practice Santosha on my mat? The answer is, as always, presence. Creating an honest dialogue within our physical practice is always the opening to figuring out what’s next. Where, among the chatarungas and warriors, can you find contentment? Where can you balance the act of setting goals and the feeling of celebrating where you are right now? For example, perhaps you have been working for some time on landing Crow Pose. You practice the pose, follow the instructor’s cues, and still the pose alludes you. Can you create presence and joy within your practice and value where you are right this moment, as well as work hard to float your feet? Perhaps where you are in the pose right now is exactly where you need to be.

Our mat serves as our mirror and our life-rehearsal space. By applying Santosha to our physical practice and being present to the light it can offer, we are more equipped to access contentment in our everyday lives. Yoga, on and off the mat, is a practice. If we can practice presence and relax with what is we have direct access to gratitude and so much joy.

See you on the mat.


Written by Amanda Barp

Amanda Barp is co-founder of Watershed Wellness, a licensed massage therapist with 10+ years experience, a registered yoga teacher with a passion for learning and teaching about the human body & how to feel at home in it.