This is part eight of a series exploring the ten principles of yoga philosophy, also known as the yamas and niyamas. Come and explore this fascinating ancient wisdom with me. Experience how things start manifesting automatically when you start implementing these principles into your daily life.
Whether you practice yoga postures or not, these are all ways in which we can help ourselves and the world around us to be an even better place.
Santocha, accepting life as it is
Santocha is Sanskrit for ‘contentment’.
Contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction.
A state of mind where we are free of restlessness and desire for something else than whatever is manifesting.
Restlessness often comes from wanting more. Longing for something so badly that it crosses over into desire.
We have the greatest joy in life when there is no struggle against the flow of life.
Of course, things do not always go according to plan but fighting against the flow of life doesn’t exactly increase your happy vibes.
Oprah says it really nicely. “When life feels like you are rowing upstream? Maybe, it’s time to turn your little boat around… (and row downstream instead of upstream).”
Go with the flow, welcoming whatever life gives us.
God gives you what you can take.
God thinks I’m a rock star.
Santocha doesn’t mean that you are leaning back in the illusion that life is what it is and nothing can be changed about it.
When we look at the body, there is a reason why your body might be inflexible right now. Or, why you are overweight. It could means that you had different priorities for a while and did not go to yoga or the gym, or that you didn’t take a lot of care of what you were eating.
We can only grow when we fully accept ourselves.
This fabulous phrase explains the foundation of santocha.
We are aware of whatever is manifesting, we accept it and from this point onwards, we start to work on whatever we want to work on.
You do not disapprove of anything that is occurring. You might be aware that certain things (like being overweight) is not serving you any longer. In this case, you can accept what is right now, and from here, commit to change.
Commit to different eating habits, having a plan, an ambition and, ideally a coach or mentor who can keep you accountable for your efforts.
If the main purpose in life is Joy. Enjoy your path and increase your contentment with what is. Be grateful for at least 15 things, every single day.
The standard of success is the amount of joy that you feel. It is not about how much you consume or how many things you have. It is not even about the magnificent things you have accomplished.
From my volunteering work in hospices, guiding people to make the big cross over, I have learned that all the material things in the world mean absolutely nothing in the end. Nothing whatsoever.
The perfect pose in your yoga class
>>> “You know, you will never be really good at yoga …”<<<
> Oh la la…
> The tiny earthquake-ish shock that goes through a yoga class every time I say this sentence…
> Eyes quickly checking to whom I dare saying this…
After the drama has settled and students clearly see that I’m smiling and not looking at any one in particular. I then explain that there is no perfect pose in my world.
Consequently, if you have this approach, you will also never be good at it, as there is nothing to reach for.
When you feel it, you are doing it. Whatever it looks like.
The ‘perfect’ backbend will look very different on every single person. There is also not one specific backbend, however cool it might look, that will lead you to a more peaceful life. No prices to win.
More importantly, can you fully relax in your end relaxation pose for example?
Can you be open to whatever it is that arises? In the most gentle way you can imagine?
To DO: Accept
If you are serious about strategically developing yourself, and reaching your fullest potential in life? In that case, I have a little assignment for you.
Knees, hips, the lower back and shoulders are usually brilliant objects for frustration.
If you recognize this frustration, I invite you to start your next practice (or workout, walk, movement) from being 100% content with what is.
You are not getting upset with this particular part of your body that is ‘not functioning’ as you would like it to function.
Some people get very upset with one body part. They keep pushing it, wrecking it. It’s one big fight.
Accept that maybe, it just needs time.
Accept that maybe, some parts, will not heal the way you want them to heal.
You will continue to work on it in the most ahimsic way you can imagine. Every day. But above all, you will be gentle.
There is no gain when there is pain in yoga. When it’s (highly) uncomfortable, continue.
Yes, no, maybe in certain aspects of life or sports.
In yoga asana though: No. Again, there is no gain when there is pain in yoga.
And pain is not, not wanting to get out of bed and meditate in the morning. That is being lazy and not having the right motivation, more about motivation in the blog on ‘tapas‘!
I hope you enjoyed what you read about santocha. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate asking.
Rachel Bonkink holds a Masters Degree in Commercial Sciences and she can look back at a strong corporate career as an operational director. She has been a life coach for over 10 years and her company is seen globally as one of the leading yoga retreat companies. From the very start of her own yoga journey, the yoga philosophy resonated more than any asana, or posture, ever did. In the past 10 years, she has read, studied and continues to follow at least two to three trainings per year to deepen her knowledge on yoga and meditation. In between her retreats, Rachel can be found by the beach in Morocco, where she writes, studies and enjoys life, doing the things that she loves the most.