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SSE Week 09: Santosha

Introduction to Santosha

Santosha, the second niyama of five, is one of my favorites, and it is SO IMPORTANT to practice in today’s social, political, and economic climate. Santosha means contentment, but not just the kind you may feel after a really good meal — It’s a greater sense of clarity and release into the notion that every situation has the potential to offer truth, learning, and benefit. It’s cultivating gratitude for the things you have, as opposed to bumming out about what you’re missing; it’s keeping faith in you ability to survive and thrive, and even be happy; and it’s finding those silver linings again and again and again. 

In The Path of the Yoga Sutras, Nicolai Bachman states, “True inner happiness rests upon feeling content with who we are right now,” that santosha asks us to understand that “who we really are at the core in none other than the light of awareness that all beings share.” It’s about connecting the truth through that realization, and keeping faith in our ability to weather any storm — All situations and experiences are transient, ever changing, but that pure inner knowing, that connection inside all of us, is universal, all-knowing, and immovable, and at its roots lays santosha, true and all-consuming contentment. 

Cultivating santosha can be difficult, but is so necessary. Bachman argues that “One aspect of contentment is being unattached to the results of our actions. If the result is less than we expected, we can still accept what happens, learn from it, and move on.” This takes time and effort, but it is possible. One way to encourage yourself to detach from the outcome is to practice gratitude: 

If we cultivate gratitude even when we are content, we strengthen that attitude in our heart-mind, like amending its soil, and make that gratitude easier to access when needed [….] Slowing down, stepping back, and appreciating the little things in life creates inner happiness. 

Home Exercise: Santosha

This week, I invite you to form your own gratitude practice! In a notebook, on your phone, or in voice memos, list out five things you’re grateful for each and every day. They can be small things, like a kind word or two from a family member, or bigger things, like shifting opinions on topics that are important to you. 

I like to do this right before bed, but you can practice it throughout the day if that works better for you. What I like about ending my day with this practice is the sense of closure and acknowledgment I feel — I like how I can reflect, create mindful connections with, and fall to sleep with the joyful aspects of the day top of mind. 

“Gratefulness does for our heart-mind what food does for our bodies — it nourishes our heart-mind and creates a sense of fulfillment.”

– The Path of the Yoga Sutras

Watch this Week’s Video

Bring Santosha into Practice

Summer Sutra Experience: Ahimsa Facebook Sharable

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Summer Sutra Experience: Ahimsa Instagram Sharable

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Practice: All Levels Yoga

Practice: Gentle Yoga


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