Mom-asana: Achieving Santosha, or Contentment

During this busy time of year, it's important to remember what the holidays are supposed to be all about: happiness, or santosha.

Internationally recognized yoga teacher and mother of two Janet Stone, who will lead our upcoming Yoga for Moms online course (enroll now and be the first to know when this mom-inspired course launches), is offering YJ readers a series of weekly “mom-asanas” for strength, fitness, and grounding. This week’s practice: Finding contentment amid the pressures of motherhood.

During this busy time of year, it’s important to remember what the holiday season is supposed to be all about: happiness, or as I prefer to think of it, santosha, or contentment, (santosha is one of the Niyamas, which make up the second limb of yoga in the Yoga Sutra). We have so many external ideas about happiness: what it looks like and all of the conditions that must be met before we achieve it. In contrast, contentment resides in relaxing into what is. It asks us to embrace what life is offering in this exact moment.

Arriving at contentment can be a confusing. The map isn’t clear and we can’t “do” our way into it. It’s a process of softening around all of our expectations so that we may embrace our life as it is. On the outside, contentment doesn’t look like that moment on the mountain top with your arms open wide or the horseback ride along the ocean. It can be as simple as a sip of healing tea or a pause with one hand resting on your child’s (newborn or adult) heart.

Practice: What Makes You Feel Content?

Take some time to write down your moments of simple contentment and revel in the now. We miss these moments when we’re stuck in a loop that tells us we need something more, else, or different before we can experience this sense of grace. There is nothing outside of ourselves that will give us a true and lasting sense of contentment—only the exhale and the softening into life as it unfolds in each breath. From a place of true contentment and with self-love and compassion, you can remain open to growing and becoming more of the person you hope to expand into.

Mom-asana of the Week

Find a comfortable seat. Place your hand on your heart. Pause. Feel the absolute magic that is in the inhale and exhale that sustain life. Then, find your child or children and notice who they are in this exact moment in time. If they are older, remember the open wonder with which you watched them as infants and let yourself see them with that purity of vision as they are today.

San Francisco-based yoga teacher Janet Stone started her practice at age 17. A student of Max Strom and meditation teacher Prem Rawat, Stone teaches vinyasa flow at events around the world. Her new kirtan album with DJ Drez, Echoes of Devotion, hit number 1 on iTunes’s World Music chart this year. Stone has two daughters and offers this advice to moms: “Motherhood offers infinite lessons in the realms of surrender, empowerment, grace, mistakes, and patience, and then some more patience—as well as the endless unfurling of transitions and change. Practicing yoga amidst this adventure can support us in myriad ways to find our center.” Learn more about her upcoming course, Yoga for Moms.