The second niyama is santosha, contentment. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 11.42, santosha is described as life’s greatest happiness that cannot be shaken. It is about accepting yourself, those around you, and the world around you as it is. It is looking at the situations and people in your life, and realizing that none of them are bad or good, they just are. It is remembering that life is its own being, and it will throw at you whatever it wants, and santosha is just remembering that you do not have control over it. It reminds you to just be. Do not take this as to mean you should passively exist without trying to make the world or your life better, because that is just a form of running from life. Look at life, and just be content to be here.
You do this with your body as well, which to me, in our society, is the biggest thing people focus on besides how much is in our bank account. When you step up to your mat, when you take a healing breath in and begin to move into your asana practice, it is about accepting your limits and abilities. Cannot move into that perfect pose? It isn’t about that. Remember, yoga is not about striking a pose as Facebook, Instagram, and other social media makes it seem. It’s about accepting yourself and where you are on your journey. Not everyone will be in the same place, some will be further ahead, or further behind. Be content with that. Sure, eventually you may get there, but you may also never get there, and that is alright. Your body is your physical tool on Earth to show love, compassion and devotion, be content with where you are and take care of it, and accept the journey. Many times we focus on the result of where we will be, without stepping back and taking in the journey fully. I am fully guilty of this almost every other day.
Santosha is a reminder to be fully thankful to be here in this moment, because it is precious. Every moment is precious, no matter how you may perceive it. The elderly woman surrounded by her loved ones as she lowers her eyelids, breaths deep, and exhales her spirit into another realm for the next great adventure. The unbearable pain coursing through a woman’s limbs and the breath she holds until she hears her child take its first breath. Each of these moments are precious. These lie on the opposite ends of the spectrum yes, but the ones in the middle are just as beautiful. The early mornings you experience as you wake for the day, standing at the sink washing some dishes, the world quiet around you. These are precious moments that teach us to be content with where we are, they reinforce to us that we need to practice santosha, to be mindful of it in our everyday.
Something that I have had to realize is that in my life is that I may not be where I wanted to be, but I am where I should be. The Universe will take care of our paths, we just need to be quiet enough to listen, and content enough to remember to enjoy the journey. Meditate, and take a deep breath, and remember that you are where you should be, just listen closely to see where the next step will go.