This episode is part of a course.
Living the Yamas and Niyamas Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 9

Santosha (Contentment)

45 min - Practice


We practice cultivating and feeling Santosha, or contentment, as we move in and out of postures, finding steadiness and ease within the effort.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)


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Hey there, welcome back once again. This is number seven, our seventh time together. This is santosha. This is contentment. This is that feeling of deep inner calm and peace, but how?

How do we get that? How do we get more of that in our life? That feeling of calm, relaxed, content with what is. Even when it's really uncomfortable, things aren't great, right? The external surroundings, things aren't working out, big breakup, whatever.

Whatever it might be, we can use a lot of different examples, but to have the capacity or the practice and understanding of how to hone that concept of, I'm content, I'm calm. Even if it's for a fraction of a moment, for some it may be a certain place might conjure up that feeling for you, that feeling of being in the mountains or driving. I don't know what it is for you. I have my things. I love to be physical.

I'm playing a certain sport. There's no mind stuff going on. I'm absolutely content, but that's a tricky thing, right? Because I'm actually relying on that certain sport or movement. Take it away and can I still get that feeling, right?

So maybe the idea of this is without any external thing, right? How can maybe just the simple breath, the things that we actually have within us, it's a real tricky one to share and articulate because, man, that's the goal, right? One of the goals is to be completely at peace with yourself. One of the things I think about quite often, and I talk about in classes sometimes, is we all have our goals that we want to achieve, right? We have goals, things we want to attain.

And whether or not I attain it, I get there along the way, along the journey there, right? I'm good. So I'm not relying on that thing to all of a sudden bring this deep happiness and contentment into my life. I'm good either way and I'm enjoying the ride. That's kind of like this whole thing of life, right?

It's like, I'm not sure what's going to happen. I'm not going to rely on this external thing down the road to provide this sense of stabilization and calm. I'm going to be that way and work toward that along that path. So that's my take on it. I hope that that comes through and is clear.

This is santosia, contentment, you know? So if you, I think it's worth looking into and practicing quite a bit. Now how do we do that in our practice? You know, there are a lot of postures, there are a lot of movements that I probably would love to be able to do, but I'm not there yet. So I'm going to do the work to get there and along the way, I'm going to be stoked and calm and I don't know if I'll ever get it, but I'll be happy along the way, right?

Maybe that's the attitude. So if that works for you, let's do it. All right. So we're going to start standing. We're going to go through some sun salutations, some standing poses maybe that we haven't done yet together in this series.

So front of the mat, we're going to bring some blocks into play because I just like the block action. It makes the transitioning back and forward smooth and I feel content when I use the blocks. I really do. I love them. I'm a big fan.

So if you've got the blocks, use them. If not, don't worry about it. So let's take a few moments at the front of the mat to stand tall in a mountain pose that equals standing like I'm at full attention. I'm at ease. I am good regardless of my external surroundings.

I'm finding a good, calm, centered, peaceful breath, let's say, right? The breath provides that satisfaction. I'm satisfied. The movement of my fingers satisfies me with all the things that have to go on, just to simply move a finger or all 10 fingers to roll the shoulders back, to open up the heart, think positive thoughts, all the things that I have control over and that satisfies me. I can create the calm, peaceful, internal environment, which is contentment.

Not letting external things really kind of thrash me about like a boat at sea, you know? So anyway, that's my whole, that's my spiel, but I believe in it and I hope that resonates with you. So let's start with a half salutation. So let's bring the arms up overhead, breathe in, as always, as we bring the arms up. Breathe out a little bend of the knees, folding forward.

Breathe in half lift and fold, exhale. Breathe in, rise up, reach the arms up. Take that big, best day ever pose and exhale the palms back to the chest. Breathe in, reach the arms out and up and breathe out, forward and down, we're kind of tuning in to the breath, to the body, integrating from where you were and to where you are now. Back back, inhale and fold, exhale.

Inhale rise up, get that full body stretch. Exhale the palms rest back at that place of total dedication, commitment. Breathe in, let's add a little bit to this. Exhale forward and down, flat back on the breath in, breath out, hands to the blocks or whatever surface you've chosen and walk back into downward dog. Let's walk it out a little bit for the first dog pose.

Let's work with that, that all throughout the practice here, content, I am satisfied here in this posture, this posture right here, right now. Even if it's a little bit tricky, a little bit uncomfortable, I'm working with certain little injuries or trouble spots, I'm still able to be here, I'm still able to do it and make choices to feel a certain way. Let's come into a plank pose on the breath in, we're going to use the blocks for these lowering right, you can use your knees or full plank and we lower down that chaturanga, move through the upward dog on the breath in, pull the shoulders back, hips are nice and high up off the ground and from the core, from your belly and your thighs, downward dog, exhale, soft bend in the knees, sit bones long and high, look forward, exhale the right foot forward, continue to exhale the left foot forward, forward bend, inhale flat back, pushing the hips back, spine long, forward and down, inhale rise up on the breath in, sit down into a chair pose for a moment, sit the hips back and down, arms up overhead, neutral spine, core braced, good you can sit a little bit lower if you'd like, inhale rise all the way up, exhale forward and down, inhale half lift, I'll use the blocks to do that, exhale step back into plank pose and lower down halfway, upward facing dog on the breath in, take time to spread the shoulders wide and use your core muscles for downward dog, good, inhale your right leg up, hip height to transition the right foot forward, bring the back heel down, you can shorten your stance a little bit, keep your left foot facing forward, it doesn't have to be straight forward but at a little angle this will help for warrior one to draw the left hip forward, so bend the right leg and rise up for warrior one, you can bring the arms up overhead but then bring them down to the hips for a moment, we will hit this pose a couple more times, so the right foot is on the inside of the block, pull the right hip back as you keep bending the right leg, so the knee is pretty much stacked over the right ankle, now notice where my left toes are pointing, my left hip has a nice comfortable position, if your toes are out it's going to feel kind of bad to draw the hip forward, so left foot forward, left thigh bone forward, hip forward, now ground down through the feet, here's where the effort is, push down especially into that back foot, so you feel that left leg working hard, right leg bent, arms up, maybe even interlace your fingers, index finger long, cross your thumbs, brace the core, you don't have to be bent like super deep into this pose to get the benefits, lift the chest a little bit more, finding a steady, calm, content, like almost like savoring it, you set the pose up right, find the balance with the effort and ease, comfortable and steady, not allowing negativity to run your mind, let's take an exhale, so what I like to do, you can give it a shot, is as you exhale you start to bring the hands down to the blocks and maybe like halfway down I lift the back heel and step the left foot back so that it's ready for plank pose, if I didn't do that my foot would be here, then I'd step back and I'd have to do like a double move, so basically you move back into plank, we lower down halfway, inhale open up, upward facing dog, there's no rush in this practice whatsoever, savoring the pose, the transitions, savoring your breath, how can we, you and I and everyone else find that feeling of contentment, you're driving down the road, you're walking, you're doing your daily chores and your duties and everything just feels good, you feel good, you're not waiting for some external thing to provide this hit of happiness or brief satisfaction. Number one on the left side, build it up, ground up, rise up. So if your right leg, I want you to push that foot down, remember turn it like we did the left leg, turn the foot, ground every edge, seal off that right foot and the left foot, bend into the left leg, draw the right hip forward, left hip pulls back into that hip or the hip pulls back, reach the arms up, try to get that neutral pelvis so if you have a super long stance, shorten it a little bit, make it a little easier on yourself, doesn't mean it's easy and not beneficial, keep the arms reaching nice and high but draw those shoulder blades down your back or the shoulders and shoulder blades down, breath in, breath out, good, on your next exhale, hands start to come down, you lift the back heel, you step it back, step the left foot back and exhale lower, pull yourself forward and up for your upward facing dog, I always have to like adjust those shoulders to get them wide and downward facing dog on the exhalation, let's lead with the left foot this time.

So breathe in, you could lift the left leg up, exhale, make the exhale slow, left foot forward, right foot forward, forward bend, finish your exhale, inhale to your flat back and exhale fold, inhale rise all the way up, arms reach up, best day ever as always and exhale palms to the chest, to the heart, continue to build, breathe in, reach up, breathe out forward and down, no rush, inhale half lift, exhale plank pose, lower down again, inhale pull yourself forward, exhale downward dog, inhale your right leg up, exhale transition to the front of the mat, walk that left foot up a tiny bit more, inhale warrior one, good, exhale step the left foot back, warrior two. So this is our first warrior two together, align the front heel with your back arch or the front heel with the back heel, those are two safe positions, track the right knee toward the right ankle like being above, draw the tailbone down, you don't want to stick your booty out too far because then you drop your core out, pubic bone up, tailbone down, shoulders over the hips, arms reach out, you can take the gazing point toward the video, toward the camera, right, I'll take it toward you, wherever you'd like, you can take the gaze over the right middle finger, you can close your eyes if you'd like, peaceful, content, satisfied, reverse warrior, you can take the left hand all the way to your low back towards your right hip, pull the left shoulder back, right arm reaches up, inhalation, this is that peaceful warrior, so perfect pose here, peaceful, content, satisfied as you windmill the arms down, lift the back heel up, step back into plank, take the blocks a little bit wider, see what that feels like, I've been offering that quite a bit lately, lower down halfway, pull yourself forward, a little more space with those wider than your shoulders, hand downward dog exhale, left leg up, inhale, exhale, step it to the front, good, I love these blocks, it just makes it so nice, back heel down, warrior one, build it from the ground up, warrior two, step back at a longer distance between your left foot and right foot, open up the hips, there's that little hip opener now, arms extend up, sealing off both feet, down, down, down, root through the bones of the feet, the outer edges, lift up through the arches, remember the tailbone, draw it down, align the shoulders over the hips, remember that shoulder blade position, there's this retraction, you draw the shoulder blades toward one another, so to engage this upper back musculature, love that word, now peaceful warrior, let's call it content warrior, right hand reaches toward the left hip, right at your low back, right shoulder peels back, contentment warrior, breathe in, on the breath out like a windmill, arms come down, very nice, back heel spins up, blocks are still kind of on that wide position, lift the left foot up to step back into plank and lower, inhale, upward dog, shoulders wide chest, lifting, downward dog exhale, deep inner peace, how can we find more moments in the day, on the mat, off the mat, maybe even more importantly is how can we maintain that when things are really rough, we go to that place when things are really uncomfortable, even if it's for one breath, let's look forward, breathe in and step both feet up to the front of the mat, forward bend, exhale, inhale, flat back and exhale, fold, rise all the way up, breathe in and breathe out, arms all the way down by your side for a moment, roll the shoulders up and back, tailbone down, satisfied with the beauty of one breath, take this quality of kind of spacious movement into the next series, take the arms up on the breath in, breath out, forward and down, inhale to your flat back again, plank pose as you breathe out, lower down, keep your shoulders nice and healthy, pull through, upward dog inhale and downward dog exhale, you're going to take the right leg, lift it up one time, bring it into the elbow, knee toward the elbow protraction, spread the shoulder blades apart, pull through the belly and step now right from here to the front of the mat, spin the back heel down, find your warrior two stance now, so we eliminated warrior one, we go right into warrior two, yeah so you just kind of exhale into this grounded centered aligned content space, even when it's tricky, even when it's a little difficult, continuing to approach these postures and this series of movements with no rush whatsoever or as my brother would say, yes rush because he's a huge rush fan, a little geeky about it too, admittedly, so you can imagine how many times a day I might say it's no rush, yes rush, it's pretty funny, extended side angle, so right forearm rests on the right thigh, try not to drop the head to the shoulder, keep some space there, I like to take the left arm straight up, you can stay right here or you can put an angle on that left arm, keeping that warrior two position, if you're really ambitious, you just want a little bit more heat in the core, take the right arm, reach it forward as well, now everything is relying on your feet and that midline core connection, but even though it's like oh you're gonna shake a little bit, it's a little bit more difficult, it's all good, it's all good, reverse warrior, reach up and back, take that contentment warrior, oh nice, back into warrior two, straighten the right leg, get out of that bent leg for a moment, I'm gonna move the block, actually yeah just up for a moment, take the arms back behind you, interlace your fingers and you can stay right here because that just might feel like butter, might feel so good for you, okay, or you can bend the right leg, now you've got to use your legs, your feet and your leg strength to drop down for humble warrior, body comes down either on top of the right thigh or on the inside, reaching the knuckles, either keeping them at your low back or reaching them up and overhead, somewhere in between, relax the head, find that satisfied, content space, it's not too much, it's not too little, you have the time to explore the feeling where you can get a little bit more, a little bit less, good, now you can use your hands in any way you'd like right, but honor the head low blood rushing position as you come up, good, alright this is where we've got to regain our focus, this is half moon, so I'd like you to maybe even step the left foot up a tiny bit more, we're gonna adjust the block in just a moment, but we're gonna balance now on the right leg, okay, left hand on the left hip, right hand reaches straight out, you're gonna keep your hips open in this pose, lean forward into the right leg, lifting the left toes up off of the mat, now right here, half moon, half moon, half moon, half moon as you bring the right hand toward the block on the low, the medium or the high, hand below the shoulder, left leg lifting up parallel with the floor, you can point your left toes or push through your heel so that that left leg is stable and strong, breathe of course, left hand can rise high toward the sky, you can straighten your right leg, you can keep it bent, keep a sharp relaxed focus on one object, if you've fallen out which is very likely because it's a difficult pose, you can rejoin me, left hand on the hip, bend the right leg, step back into warrior two, boom, reverse warrior, breathe in and now breathe out, windmill the arms down, get those blocks back into place, spin the left heel up, step back into plank pose, exhale lower, inhale, upward dog, exhale, downward dog, good work. You know and if you're working towards something using this yoga practice, this is that time to acknowledge like you'll get there someday, right? Maybe you will, maybe you won't but the practice is I'm good along the way, find as many moments as you can tap into that feeling of satisfaction, warrior two, set it up, the feet right for you, proper leg bend for you, no need to lean forward here, keep those shoulders stacked up over the hips, arms out wide and now draw those shoulder, you can take the palms up, bend the arms a little bit, you can pull the shoulder blades towards one another but notice how I'm not sticking my rear out, you don't want to do that, we want to keep that tailbone drawn downward just to encourage that neutral pelvis, everything seems to operate just a little bit cleaner with that neutral pelvis here, extended side angle so left leg is working no doubt, forearm on the thigh, space between the left ribs and the thigh, shoulder, left shoulder and the head and neck, right arm glides up nice and high and then you put an angle on that maybe, the right shoulder try not to creep that up too high into the ear, peel that shoulder down while staying connected with that arm or staying lengthened, if you want a little more effort in the feet, legs core, reach the left arm, straight forward, drop up and away, reverse it one more time, breathe in, back into warrior two, straighten out the left leg, I'm going to move that blocks again, straighten again like you've got all day, no rush, yes rush, hands behind, clasping, using a belt strap, sure to tell if you'd pull the shoulders open, bend back into the left leg, exhale drop on down, doing the work, on the mat, one breath at a time, good, push down to come back up, yes, very good, relax the arms, shake them out a little bit, shorten your stance a tiny bit, good, walk that block on the left side out, you know it's going to be below your shoulder so it's about ten inches out in front of your left foot, right hand on the hip, left arm reaching forward, start to bend into the left leg, find your focal point, I'm looking like six to eight feet out in front of my left foot, now from that position, bend the right leg and gently launch into that stable, we'll find it eventually, left leg, lifting the right leg up as high as parallel with the floor or anywhere in between the floor in that space, left hand on the block on the low, medium or high, slight little bend in that left leg so we don't get behind the knee too much, soften where you can soften, right arm reaches toward the ceiling, the sky, breath is even, equal, and if you struggle with this pose, you know, maybe one day you won't but until then, you're good, you're good, you're in the practice, right hand to the hip, bend the left leg, step back into warrior two, land, grounding exhale, peaceful warrior once again, breathe in and breathe out, windmill the arms down, grab those blocks one more time, step back into plank pose, lower yourself down, halfway upward facing dog for the last one and downward facing dog, let's take it from downward dog, we'll take two steps, if you need more than that, take more, right foot to the right side of the right block, open the foot out wide like squat position, left foot out wide, let's move the blocks, I'm gonna tidy up the blocks all the way over here, we're gonna drop into that yoga squat, that malasana, okay, so if your malasana is here, can you find that feeling of I'm cool with that, I'm content, maybe someday I get down here but honestly, you're gonna get here just like I am and if we're not mindful of it, we want more, more, more, so that's okay but I'm good, I'm good exactly where I am, forward bend, hands come down, kick the heels out a little bit and fold, stretch the legs out a little bit and again, we enter this little squat forward bend flow with absolute, absolutely no rush, slow pace on the exhalation, squat pose, we use the exhale to enter, pause long enough to breathe in here, use the whole exhalation to travel into the forward bend, you take the hands behind the head to lengthen the back of the neck, breathe in here and breathe out back down into another squat, elbows pressing firmly into the inner thighs, pushing the chest forward to encourage this neutral, potentially neutral spine, okay, from here we're gonna come down to the seat, so if you'd like to use your hands, do so, I know it's helpful for me, if you have a blanket, grab a blanket, fold it up a little bit, the whole purpose of the blanket is so that you sit on the edge of it to tip the pelvis forward to make a little bit, make this position a little more comfortable, so you're gonna bring the left foot to the inside of the right thigh, you can leave the right foot straight out and fold like so if you'd like, what we're gonna work on, you can join me as an angle on that right leg, now from here we're gonna turn your body open to the left, okay, now reach the right hand to the right big toe, if you have a strap you can also use a strap, you can bring the hand to the shin, to the ankle, if you can reach the big toe, big toe, elbow to the shin or the floor, I like to kind of bring, this is my position that works for me at least getting into it at first, so you can stay here with the right hand on the thigh keeping that shoulder open, next phase would be left arm reaching up, maybe even behind the head, if you know right away this pose, just like myself, I don't touch, right, so I can be here and hover and you have to choose for yourself, if you're hovering you keep the arm like so and you breathe into the left side of the body or you can take the left hand behind the head and reach a little bit more through the elbow, both are perfect it's just a personal preference but you're getting that long stretch through the right leg, breathing well, content, I'd imagine in these postures that the more content we are, like that deep internal content feeling, peaceful feeling, we may even be able to access a deeper posture because the body is kind of like, has reduced the tensions and anxieties and such, all right, counter pose my favorite, left hand reaches back, so we just stretch big time through the left side, left hand comes back behind you, ground your right foot, come up onto your left knee, lift the hips now, reach the right arm, make any adjustments you need to make, but lift the hips, now we get into the right side as you reach your right arm up and back, it's like a flip dog kind of position here, breathe now into the right side, move around a little bit, figure out where that juicy spot is for you and we bring it on down, okay, let's do the other side, right foot, inner left thigh, left leg is extended open to the left, so there's an angle on it, right, if you have another blanket and this is a tight pose for your knee, put the blanket underneath that left knee or 86 the blanket under your seat and put the blanket there, okay, all right, so again, I'm going to turn my body open to the right, so I encourage you to do the same, reach the left arm, your left arm to the big toe, shin, ankle, somewhere around there, re-encourage that right shoulder and chest to open up, now you can stay here and keep your hand on your ribcage and belly so you can feel the breath, right, breathe into your hand, you can see immediately when my breath originates, right down here in the belly, up into the chest and then out, you want to take that side bend, reach the right arm high and begin that journey where you land, you land, I used to get frustrated, I'd go to a yoga class and see most of the people being able to grab hold and come into some crazy position and it would make my body tight, I would actually get frustrated, like why can't I do that, really, that's a whole other discussion but this is where I am right now and I can be frustrated and have a whole internal dialogue that's not productive at all, or I can settle in, feel satisfied, doesn't mean I'm not doing the work to achieve a deeper pose or more success in my life, let's come back out, that's a nice big stretch on that right side, now same thing, right hand back behind you, ground that left foot, come up onto the right knee, I like to curl my right toes under and really lift, push my hips forward, opening up the hip on the right and the left, potentially if you've set up the stabilizing points, you can find this luxurious kind of spacious position, left arm reaching up and back, nice, let's undo that posture, come on down, good, you take a quick bound angle so the bottoms of the feet together, come forward, maybe round out, stretch out the back, turn to the right, turn to the left, come back up, nice, you can lose the blanket, grab a block if you've got it, put it nearby, we're going to go for a seated forward bend, three breaths, so sit up tall, the pelvis correct for you, bring the arms up on the breath in, breath out, forward bend, two more breaths, come on up, roll down to our back, roll down to your back and you've got two options here, you've got as many options as you'd like but the two options I'll offer is lie down for Shavasana, your most comfortable position or we do the supported shoulder stand, block is on the flattest position on the low, low back sacrum, that flat area at the base of your spine, now you can stay here and even in bridge pose like a supported bridge or take the legs up, now this, once you find the position where the block is really supporting you, nothing driving into your back, your legs are hovering comfortably, this can feel pretty nice, so the option is this for your relaxation or traditional Shavasana, whatever you've chosen, land in it with satisfaction possibly, I made a choice, hands resting on your chest, your belly alongside your body, breathing is relaxed and even for now or future practices if you've never done it you can do the same position without the block with your legs up against a wall, allow the breath to fall in and fall out, relax your legs, your feet, your ankles, your legs, keep in the breath, the legs are up, as always keep them there as long as you'd like or exit down, take that supported bridge for a breath, undo the block, come up to sit, exiting nice and relaxed from your relaxation or taking this relaxation a little bit longer, I'll close out with thanks, I love sharing this with you and I hope that it resonates with you in some way, it's obviously a continued practice but with that said, Santoshya, contentment, I'm content now, being here with you, so thank you for being here, Namaste.


Lauri K
3 people like this.
Dang you’re right it’s easy to be content when I have activities that relax me whether cooking reading working yoga or gardening, but when activity isn’t a choice and the “what if’s” anxiety start screaming, that’s when my work begins to try & realign the contentment. When I master that I’ll be a happy camper. Meanwhile I’ll try to be content on the way lol. That’s a hard one.
Jenny S
4 people like this.
As I am personally grappling with yet another “challenge” off the mat, I’ve been practicing a lot of heart opening and meditative yoga and it totally helps. Adding in this practice of Santosha is true yoga medicine for the soul. Life really is beautiful when we choose to see it that way. ✨✨✨
Robert Sidoti
Hi Lauri! Thanks for your comment and for being here! I think it's really difficult and challenging to be absolutely content or satisfied when life comes to a standstill so to speak - when there aren't the tasks or activities, the things that keep us 'busy' in our lives. How can we understand more clearly our minds in these quiet moments, or not so quiet because the mind is rambling and shouting it's fears and as you say 'what if's' all over the place, it can make us a little crazy, that's why we seek the task or activity, so to get away from the mind chatter. This is a much longer conversation than this comment forum allows:) Feel free to check this link for more info if you'd like, I have taken some gems of info from it!
Robert Sidoti
Beautiful message and practice Jenny!! I appreciate so much your sharing here! I just posted a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh that is relevant to this conversation I think : ) "The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air, but simply walking on earth" As you said - Life is beautiful if you choose to see it as that!
Martha K
4 people like this.
Wow! That one hit me like a ton of pillows! A slow contentment and satisfaction permeating my being. Ahhhhhhhhh.... 
Robert Sidoti
Hello there Martha and happy Sunday!! Sounds like a positive experience you’ve had:) 
“Like a ton of pillows”, love that! 
Eliana C
1 person likes this.
Contentment. Namastê.
Robert Sidoti
Namaste and thank you Eliana 🙏🏽🤗
Suzanne D
1 person likes this.
Robert, It is now March of 2020 and the globe is dealing with COVID 19. This class tonight reminded me that contentment comes from with in. The circumstances are what they are. Do I let them disturb me or I take facts and use them to add to my contenment in the quickly changing times thanks Suzanne
Robert Sidoti
Thanks for this thoughtful comment Suzanne :))  Still March and Covid is still very present. I'm happy this practice has helped you to feel that elusive sense of contentment we all strive for - maybe we 'strive' to hard and look outside beyond ourselves too often - it seems to be right here within ourselves, hard to notice when it's covered by so many stories and layers of 'stuff'. Anyway, that's a longer conversation, haha. Lotsa love to you and big gratitude for you practicing with us here! Robert
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