My experience of being content

Definition of Content =  Desiring no more than what one has; satisfied.
Our teacher was talking about how we should proceed with teaching Yoga on a beginners level and she suggested following these five steps:

  1. Breathing
  2. Alignment
  3. Drishti
  4. Bandha
  5. Awareness/ mind in the asana

When you are teaching beginners you should start by focusing on breathing, and when your students are comfortable in their breathing you can move on to the next steps witch include teaching them about alignment, drishti and bandhas. As you can see, awareness is the final step, and by my opinion the hardest one to learn.
In the 8 limbs of Yoga we learn about contentment as written in the second limb, Niyama. Niyama, the second limb, has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Regularly attending temple or church services, saying grace before meals, developing your own personal meditation practices, or making a habit of taking contemplative walks alone are all examples of niyamas in practice.
The five niyamas are:

  • Saucha: cleanliness
  • Samtosa: contentment
  • Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
  • Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self
  • Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God

I find Niyama linked to awareness in your practice, and especially Samtosa. This is my personal interpretation and thoughts around the subject.
The three first days of my teacher-training course I was focusing a lot on doing everything right so that I quickly could get better. I compared myself to the other ones in the class and was afraid to be the weakest link. If you are a common yoga practitioner, you know that this is the biggest mistake you could make. Why? Because you do not have awareness. You are thinking about other things that are outside yourself. Big mistake! So what are the difference between awareness and contentment?
My perception of awareness is that you do not think about what you are going to have for dinner, what your classmate is doing or how the next asana should be performed. For me being content is more than just being present, its about feeling good inside yourself and have that little smile on your face in your practice.
My eyeopener to contentment was in the third day of the course. After lunch our teacher was talking about the 8 limbs of yoga and when we reached the chapter about Niyama and Samtosa she looked at my classmate and sad that she could really see that she was content while doing her practice. It was as if she had a smile the whole time! My classmate just answered that she just felt good by doing her practice. Nothing else, just as simple as that! This really open my eyes, because before I started this course I used to be content in my practice. Of course, not all of the time because this probably takes a lifetime to achieve, but most of the time I am content and do not focus on other things.  With new surroundings and the internal pressure to succeed it is easy to lose focus. I am glad that I had this eyeopener this early in the course because it helped me to look at my practice from another view and achieve what I wanted. So do not let fear prevent you from getting better in your practice. Try to be present and aware, and be happy and content!
Kristine Flo

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