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The Yoga Gift of “Santosha” or Finding Contentment During the Holidays

by Nicole Dorsey Straff

Stress surrounds the holidays in numerous guises: from financial troubles and loneliness to missing frail older relatives who live far away. There is such a need for need during the holiday season. Plus,  I live and love in Los Angeles and see both ends of the spectrum, from those without anything to those suffering from far too much.

I constantly see over excess. To embarrassing proportions. It brings me to this particular yogic notion. In nearly every translation of the ancient yoga bible known as “the Sutras” there is a huge and profound focus on an idea that rings especially through the holidays the idea of contentment, or “santosha.”  Loosely interpreted as the underlying joy that cannot be shaken by life’s tough moments. It’s the ability to adapt happily to whatever life hurls at you, especially those things you cannot control.

You can practice this on the mat easily and often by acknowledging your tendency to strive to do a perfect pose and accepting the one you’ve got. The essence of Corpse pose, or Savasana (the restful final pose in most practices) is steeped in santosha.  Yoga teachers have told me: “If you release your mind from constantly wanting your situation to be different, you’ll find more ease. If you do, you’ll be able to think more clearly and be more effective in making a difference.”

Yet during these stressful and often emotionl weeks surround the holidays, can you slow down long enough to feel gratitude?  During those times when you don’t feel content, just act for one moment as if you were to kick-start a positive feedback loop which can help generate contentment.

Whether you’re practicing asana or going shopping or sitting around feeling slap-happy grateful, remember to find joy in the experience.

Merry Christmas. What are you grateful for in a calm, slow contented way?

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