In Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, Santosha is the second of the Niyamas, which leads towards freedom from all observances. Santosha translates to “contentment”, enjoying every moment of being in consciousness. It is interpreted as the greatest happiness, that cannot be shaken by life’s tough moments, by injustice, hardship, bad luck.
Santosha off the mat – this is something challenging for someone like me who is emotionally reactive and a natural pessimist. Having high standards for myself and the people around me, I often feel impatient, disdain and disappointment when things do not go exactly as planned. It has also got to do with the permeating competitiveness in our society, where we sometimes feel that being second means that we are not good enough, but do not feel the gratitude associated with being ahead of all except one. I often struggle with deciding between “this is enough for me” or “do not settle for less”. As a result, instead of recognising and giving gratitude to the present, I nitpick on the inadequacies and often end up losing the goodness. Therefore, Santosha is a virtue that holds special meaning to me and a value that I have to constantly remind myself that, “it is fine, do not let externalities get to you, do not live in past regret, find joy in experiencing the present and give thanks to what you have today”.
Santosha on the mat – and so, my advancement towards Santosha has been more active on the mat. Our body feels a little different everyday, sometimes we are ready to challenge the most difficult asanas, and on other days, our body just refuses to budge. It can be frustrating to know that you are capable of achieving an asana that you have attempted before, but it is on those days that Santosha reminds you to ignore external influences, to accept where you are right now is perfect, and to allow the enlightenment to eventually arrive. Be kind to oneself and breathe, be thankful for the opportunity to practise today, and be reassured that no matter what curveballs life may throw, there are always anchors to give thanks to.