Santosha  (contentment) 


Santosha (also spelled as santosa) is one of the five niyamas: Sauca, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Isvarapranidhana.  These are the guiding principles for individual discipline enumerated by Patanjali.


“Santosa is usually translated as contentment, but its real meaning is self-containment … So long as man thinks that his happiness lies outside, in external happenings, he is destined to remain unhappy, for he can have no control over the external factors.  To be psychologically self-contained is to find happiness within.” –

 The Art of Integration, p. 177-178 



If you are content with the present, you have no cravings for what is not or what you do not possess. You are allowing yourself to live without stress and ultimately to exist as a peaceful and happy being. 




What does contentment feel like? Have you had a hard-working yoga lesson when the teacher asks you to get into the pose, hold it, repeat it, and do the pose just a bit deeper?  After more than an hour of extending, holding, twisting and more, you come to rest in Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) and release all parts of your body.  You say to yourself, “This is so restful.  This is it.  I want to stay here and don’t want to get up.”  That is contentment!  You do not desire for anything anymore.  You just want to stay there.  What a joyful moment!

During my yoga practice, I find it helpful if I remind myself to bring santosha into my practice. For just a few seconds at the end of an asana, I sense my body without injecting additional effort and be present.  This allows me to observe my body and mind and to accept where I am at that time. There is no criticism, no frustration, just acceptance.  I confess, I don’t achieve this every time I practice.  But this is something I am striving for.  Will you also give it a try?


Lina Lee

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