In yoga teacher training, a good portion of the training included learning yoga postures, how to cue and practice teaching. The other part of teacher training included learning about yoga philosophy. It was in the 200-Hour Hot Power Fusion Teacher Training I did last year at CorePower Yoga, where I learned all about Santosha, which was the theme for the classes I taught last week.
Santosha is part of the second limb of the Eight Limbed Yogic Path. The Eight Limbed Yogic Path consists of eight steps on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. The Eight Limbs (as most call it for short) serve as guidelines for one’s moral and ethical conduct as well as one’s own self-discipline. To give you a little perspective on what the Eight Limbs are all about, here are each of the limbs along with a brief description of each:
The first limb, Yamas are ethical standards that focus on our own behavior. Yamas are considered to be restraints and help us develop self-control amongst others. There are five Yamas – Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brachmacnarya and Aparigraha.
The second limb, Niyamas focus on how we conduct ourselves on a more personal level. Niyamas are considered to be inward observations of ourselves. There are five Niyamas – Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya and Isvara Pranidhana.
The third limb is the practice of all physical yoga postures, Asana.
The fourth limb, Pranayama literally means “life force” and “energy.” Pranayama is our breath.
The fifth limb, Pratyahara is the withdrawal from our senses. This limb bridges the gap between the external and internal. When looking for your higher self, you’ll have to conduct your search within as opposed to just looking outward for it.
The sixth limb, Dharana is actually the initial step of the seventh limb, Dhyana. This limb is all about concentration and focus.
The seventh limb is the practice of meditation, Dhyana.
The eighth and final limb is Samadhi, enlightenment.
In the second limb of the Eight Limbed Yogic Path, the Niyamas focus on one’s self-discipline and spiritual observances. The five Niyamas are guidelines for how we conduct ourselves within. Think of these as your own personal code of conduct. Santosha is about being content and expressing gratitude. It’s about being okay with where you are at any given moment. When searching for happiness, there’s no need to go out into the world looking for it because the only place you’ll find true happiness is within yourself. Not through other people or material things.
Santosha also means being present. Rather than wishing for things to be different, accept and appreciate the reality of what is right now. Choose to be happy right now. Not later on down the line when you’re on vacation or buy the new car or when you quit the job you hate or whenever you find a romantic partner. Don’t wait for things, people or situations to change and come into your life. Count your current blessings. Be thankful for all of the good, bad and not so great things that are in your life right now. Constantly remind yourself that you have enough and you are enough.
I chose to theme my classes last week on Santosha because this is something I work on every single day. I’m an overachiever. I want things in my life to be awesome and perfect. Since my desire to achieve is so high, I’m constantly preparing and practicing for the best possible outcome, even if that means sacrificing my chance to enjoy the present moment.
Most recently, I started teaching Yoga Sculpt twice a week, fresh out of Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training. My overachievingness was at an all-time high during those first few weeks of teaching. I’d wake up an hour early each morning before class to run through all of my cues along with my music for class. I’d practice the sequence multiple times a day, just to keep everything fresh in my mind, in preparation for the next class I taught. Then once I’d get into the yoga room to teach a Sculpt class, I’d freak myself out if my timing was off from my music or if I stumbled over my words while cueing the exercises. I was so incredibly hard on myself trying to teach the perfect Yoga Sculpt class.
After teaching a few classes I realized, there’s no such thing as a perfect Yoga Sculpt class. There’s no such thing as a perfect anything. Things are going to happen the way they’re supposed to happen. In times when my overachievingness gets out of control, I have to remind myself about the importance of Santosha. This means being able to take a step back and enjoy where I’m at in that very moment and being perfectly okay with it. I put in my learning and practice time already. Now it’s time to enjoy my hard work, teach well-rounded classes, create fun playlists for my students and enjoy the experience. I have enough and I am enough.