Santosha is part of the 2nd limb of yoga – Niyama (freedom from all observances). It is about being content in the present moment, not particularly happy or sad – enjoying the moment.
Thinking about this tactically, I can often hear Master Paalu’s voice when we are holding challenging poses to “breeeeeathe…enjoyyyy the pose” while my hips and shoulders are screaming! That type of acute physical discomfort is when santosha is very difficult to master.
However, I do believe this year as I took on a work assignment to be placed in Singapore has been a big learning curve of santosha in my life. Having family and friends all based in North America, I frankly hated every moment of the first 2 months here – feeling ‘stranded’ away from friends, it was way too hot, struggled to understand how business is done in Asia, and I didn’t like the local food.
However, 2 months into arriving, I found a yoga studio that opened my eyes to the practice in a very different way to how I practiced in North America. A fellow New Yorker put it best, “When you actually have time to go to yoga in NY, you want the most intense yoga session of your life so you go to bikram or other extreme classes, you’ll hate every moment but at least you got a good workout.” In Singapore, I found I was meeting a lot more people that had a yoga practice that was much more balanced, with discipline, with santosha. In fact, after diving further into the practice (by doing the 50 hour immersion and now the 200 YTT), I’ve been able to find a much more balanced sense of contentment within myself – no longer was I counting down the months I was ‘stuck’ here – instead enjoying the moment, new yoga friends, slow improvements in flexibility, learning to eat some local food, and appreciating the time I have here – even starting to wear long sleeves once in a while!