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Cultivating Contentment

March 10, 2012

I’ve talked before about my yoga practice.  I returned to yoga after my heart attack when I was dissatisfied with the lack of stress management content in my cardiac rehab program.  I’ve garnered a great deal of support from my yoga teachers over the past few months.  They don’t have expertise on my heart condition, however the principles of yoga practice which they teach me seem to be just what I need to learn.

I went to a class two weeks ago 3 days after my latest hospital admission.  This class tends to be more physically challenging than others I regularly attend, but this teacher inspires my trust.  She reminds us regularly to “let the yoga come to you” wherever I might happen to be.  This comforts me and makes me feel welcome even if I am slower than some in the class and cannot do as many forward folds or move as quickly as others.

In this class, my teacher explained the concept of santosha.  Santosha is the second niyama (observance) of yoga practice, contentment.  There is a great discussion of this concept here on the YogaChicago website.  She recalled our attention to santosha throughout the course of the class, encouraging us to cultivate contentment in our practice.  At one point she talked about finding one’s edge in our practice that day, but cautioned against “jumping over it.”  That was such a delightfully humorous picture for me!

I contemplated this edge and finding contentment in my practice just as I am now.  I realized that for me, finding my edge is just as much about cultivating contentment in the here and now as it is pushing myself physically.  That day in class I was feeling vulnerable, unsure of how much I could do without bringing on dizziness or chest pain.  My edge that day was allowing myself to be in class and do less.  I could be there in that class experiencing the love and support of my teacher while caring for myself by respecting my limitations.  I could cultivate contentment in doing what I was able to do without harming myself.  There’s no need for me to feel embarrassment or fear of ridicule for not being able to keep up with my fitter and healthier classmates and teacher.

I hope to remember this lesson and continue finding my edge both by pushing myself to do more and by respecting the limitations of my body and mind.  I hope I can continue to be mindful and practice santosha each day, whether in class or out.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bj Babcock permalink
    March 10, 2012 10:13 am

    Beautiful and thoughtful insight into honoring yourself ~ thank you so much!

  2. March 12, 2012 9:14 am

    Thanks so much for so eloquently expressing that important part of the process- finding contentment or santosha. Get through all the extraneous stuff to a place where self respect, love, mindfulness and letting go coexist, is what I’m after. Mind-spirit-body harmony.
    Soon, I will be starting a yoga practice, encouraged so much by your own accounts.

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