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Santosha on the mat

In the last post, I briefly introduced Santosha, contentment. In this post I’ll talk about Santosha as part of yoga practice.

Contentment comes from being at ease. In our situation, in our body, and in our mind. One of the best ways that I know of to find contentment in my body and mind is through movement. Any kind of movement practice can help you become more in tune with your body, and through that, more in tune with your inner mind – your deepest Self.

How do you bring Santosha to your yoga mat? Stay on your own mat. Don’t compare yourself, your practice, your body to someone else. Be accepting of where you are in your body and in your practice right now. Once I accepted that my body is short and would remain that way, I felt happier and more content with myself. Don’t lose the joy of simply moving your body and being with your breath for the sake of the “perfect” pose or practice. There’s no such thing. There is no such thing as a bad yoga posture or a good yoga posture. There are just postures.

Not all postures fit all bodies. Notice I did not say, “Not all bodies fit all postures.” That is intentional. I don’t believe in making the body fit the posture. I believe in making the posture fit the body. One of the ways I make some postures fit my short body is to use props. I can “make my arms longer” by using some blocks. Yoga is a journey, and part of that journey is asana (postures), but asana do not exist to be perfected. They don’t exist to perfect our bodies.

Yoga asana were designed to move the body and release pent up energies in order to be able to sit for mediation, for study, for focus. It is a way to remove the distractions that keep us from doing the deeper work of getting to know ourselves. Getting to understand what our beliefs are and what is most important to us. These distractions can cause us to be frazzled, to be stressed, and can cause us suffering, stealing our happiness.

Try closing your eyes as you practice, even for a couple of poses. If you are in a class, just listen to the voice of the teacher and move your body. It doesn’t matter if you don’t match every cue, let your body be the guide and see if you get more from your practice.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, next time Santosha off the mat.

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