Santosha

Santosha has become my secret mantra. I hear you already. “What the heck is Santosha? And why is it a secret? Are you going to regularly speak in tongues on this blog?” The short answers: It’s sanskrit, I just haven’t told anyone yet, and possibly. Let me explain.

When I do something, I do it 110%. Not because I am in competition with others. I compete with myself to be the best I know I can be. As you might imagine, in the most Type-A yogi you’ll ever meet. When I come across a new pose or variation, I have to try it as soon as humanly possible. If I don’t get it right away, I keep trying until I do. Once I do get it, I spend about half a second feeling satisfied and then start thinking of how I could do it better. I’m relentless with myself that way.

Upward-facing dog
I don’t even have room for all the ways I feel my simple upward-facing dog could be better.

Cool, but what is Santosha?

Okay, so why Santosha? A friend of mine also started going to the same studio as I do, and she and I both bought new yoga mats through the studio (Jade Yoga, if you are interested – I love mine and I have no affiliation). She suggested we name them, I think half-jokingly. Well, I totally did. I named my mat Santosha, which is the sanskrit word that roughly translates to “self-acceptance”. When you push yourself like I do in all areas of life, it’s easy to get stressed out and burned out. Yoga, though, tells us to stop pushing and listen. Listen to our bodies. Listen to our breath. Are you feeling stronger today? A little tired? Stressed? Listen to that feeling and surrender to it. I’m not always terribly good at it, I admit.

Santosha does not come at all naturally to me, but it feels so good when I take a breath and forgive myself if I fall out of a pose. If I’m feeling sluggish or having trouble balancing that day, I think of this mantra and realize I need to be kinder to myself and to my body and honor what it has done in my practice today. Maybe it isn’t the best practice I’ve ever had, but it’s the best I can do right now. That really is good enough.

I certainly don’t always manage to quite get there. The craziest thing is, though, that on those occasions I can manage it, my practice gets so much better. Maybe not from the outside looking in. I’m sure I still look like a Weeble to someone looking on as I go through the poses. On the inside, though, mentally, it becomes a whole new world. I feel lighter and more grounded, all at once. It’s bliss. One would think I would learn my lesson quickly, but it takes a long time to get past old habits. I’m trying, though. One day, I hope I can truly get there.

Santosha.

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