Yoga, as described in the yoga sutra, is made up of an eight-fold path, each limb is meant to guide us to living a happier, more purposeful life in the now. The second limb of the eight-fold path, niyama, is concerned with discipline – how we treat ourselves (whilst the first one, yama, focuses on how you treat other and the outer world), or begin to cultivate the inner being. These are sometimes called observances, the do’s, or the thou -shalts.
The second niyama, Santosha, is a good one. Santosha translates to contentment, and teaches us to be content with where we are in life.
This is not to be confused with being complacent, or turning a blind eye to the suffering in the world.
Santosha wants you to keep growing but also appreciate where you are on your journey, to focus more on the actual journey rather than the outcome.
So for example if you are going to the gym or eating healthy, try to be content with where you are now. Appreciate and give yourself credit for how it is making you feel right now, and not just how you will feel once you look a certain way or can lift a certain weight.
But what about climate change destroying our beautiful planet or war, how can we be content with so much negativity around us all the time. In santosha it is important to be authentic, to find our true nature.
Acknowledge the sad and the bad, acknowledge that you are experiencing sad feelings and accept them, explore them. Are you sad because you are a caring and loving person who wishes there was something you could do? Looking for the true root cause of your sadness, it is rarely as negative as you think.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference”
Being in love
Being content can seem impossible, but there is one time when it comes naturally to us, when we are falling in love. You could hear sad news, lose your job or burn the food, but still be able to see the beauty in the world.
So being content is all about teaching ourselves to fall in love, all the time, with everything.
Fall in love with the way that you can move your legs when you are walking, fall in love with the changes in the weather, fall in love with sadness as it makes you feel, grow and understand. Fall in love with the air you breath, the body you have and the choices you make.
How do we do this
- Be open to any outcome – try not to put too much pressure on only one outcome, risking making yourself disappointed
- Be curious – explore the world and the people around you. Isn’t it fantastic that someone thought of the wheel, making our lives so much easier?
- Look deeper – when experience negativity, find the root cause. It might not fix the problem but understanding why can make it easier.
- Be an opportunist – Grab life with both hands and make the most of what you have, stuck in traffic? Perfect time to give yourself a neck and shoulder massage. Spilled coffee down your top? The best excuse to buy new clothes there is.
- Stop. Breath. – take time to look around you, see the flowers and the clouds, the nice gestures and the smiling faces, the beauty happening all around us
In class this week we will open up the whole front of our body, connecting to our core, finding balance and dance with the ups and downs of life.