Originally posted 18th December2016
I’m sure I’m not the only one, who at this time of year feels overwhelmed with the overabundance the season brings. I look at my children’s toy room and see so many gifts from previous years, knowing full well that in a few weeks there will be more. It’s hard to balance the joy of Christmas giving without feeling like the Grinch who says no to family gifting to my children.
The practice of Yoga teaches us gratitude. Western science has noted the benefits of expressing gratitude, having observed that when people express gratitude they have more positive emotions, the ability to relish good experiences, improvements in physical health, the ability to build strong relationships, deal with adversity and build resilience, be more hopeful and even sleep better, the list is infinite.
Recognising our abundance and being grateful for it, seems to quench the thirst for wanting more. When you are happy for simply having what you already have, when what you have is enough there is no need to want for anything else. Enough is enough.
A regular asana practice has its fluctuations, some days it all works, some days it doesn’t work like it did yesterday or just not at all. Being content with however it is and not overreaching is a reminder that we are enough, our practice is enough in whatever shape it takes today, with gratitude that we are able to practice at all.
Patanjali lists Santosha (contentment) as one of the niyamas (observances).
Contentment is the absence of desire, and in sutra II.42 he states “From contentment results in unsurpassed joy.” When we desire something and eventually have what we desire, the joy is short lived and we are then back to desiring something else.
To be content takes us off that merry-go-round of desire. We can tap into what is eternal and not fleeting and experience true lasting joy.
My yoga practice has taught me so much, healed me in ways that I don’t have an empty space inside that I feel like I need to fill with stuff.
I think the best gift I have ever been given by my practice is the knowledge that what is inside me is divine, perfect in its imperfections, immortal and immutable.
A divine expression existing with the purpose to experience this life and not the material things our society focuses on that are impermanent and transient and unsustainable.
I am reminded of this every time I step onto my mat…
There is a famous Sri K. Pattabhi Jois quote “Do your practice and all is coming.” I think that this is just the tip of the iceberg of what he meant.