The Niyamas in Practice: Santosha for Sanity

2.42 Santosha anuttamah sukha labhah
From an attitude of contentment (santosha), un-excelled happiness, mental comfort, joy, and satisfaction is obtained.
— The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali

As we continue to look within through the Niyamas, our practice brings us to Santosha, the second of the 5 inward practices. Sutra 2.42 is a clear statement that happiness and job starts from within, it is a choice that one makes through the process of being content.


Not to say that the process nor the choice are easy to navigate, that is part of the journey. Unhappy with the outcome of an event, a conversation, the way your evening meal turned out, a relationship ended? Then Santosha is not being practiced. 

In practice we observe thoughts and actions, practice mindfulness and re-tune ourselves as daily events challenge us. 

On the mat we enter with intention, perhaps recognizing where we are discontent and invite Santosha into our asana and meditation practices. A few ideas to help guide you are given below:

Asana: Use Balasana, child's pose, to surrender. Incorporate gentle heart opening poses and later more challenging back bends if your body is prepared (think Crocodile, Sphinx or Seal). Standing balance poses such as Garudasana (Eagle) or Bird-of-Paradise may trigger the mind to a place where the ego is anything BUT content, even the thought of the latter makes my eyes roll!

Can you be content in simply trying? The journey/destination thing. Invite poses that challenge you and study, learn, practice. Yoga practice.

Pranayama: Try Anulom Vilom with Kumbaka, the retention breath. The balancing action of the alternate nostril breathing will help to balance the two hemispheres and the retention offers an opportunity to invite contentment into the action. It is not easy, but there is no judgement, that is where we find the joy in simply being. Notice where your thoughts go with this practice.


Meditation: This is an amazing Kundalini meditation to invite contentment. Consider using the Hansi mudra and quietly meditate on being at peace with whatever conflict you may be working with at the meoment

In my personal practice I am learning to help others through energy exchanges using Himalayan Singing Bowls in vibration therapy sessions. Finding contentment through the sounds and observing how others de-stress and release anxiety, fears. Contentment comes from within and we share this peace with others as Santosha grows through practice.

If not singing bowls, here is a playlist as you work though your personal spaces: