Whole Life Magazine

June / July 2016

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Page 19 of 43

yoga & spirit By Kaci Yoh New skills to deal with frustration SANTOSHA: COMMIT TO BEING CONTENTED F rustration is part of the human experience, but there is a practice that can improve your quality of life and coping skills in any and every given moment. It's free, easy to learn, and anyone can cultivate this practice at any age, regardless of physical or mental ability. Santosha is the practice of contentment and one of the fi ve observances, or niyamas, in legendary author Pantanjali's eight limbs of yoga that describe the yogic path. Cultivating content- ment is a surefi re way to reduce stress as well as mental and physical reactions to stress, such as jaw clenching, obsessive thinking and nail biting. Contentment can promote healing of the body and mind by reducing hamster-wheel thinking and en- couraging a relaxed physical frame. As opposed to the adrenaline high of riding a zip line or the unbounded joy of receiving a surprise visit from a faraway loved one, santosha is rooted, peaceful gratitude. To begin, remember a time you felt perfectly content. Maybe you just fi nished a mellow run where you were in fl ow, or per- haps you were sitting in front of a crackling fi re with dear friends. Whatever that moment looks like for you, get into it. Go through your senses and remember details of what you saw, smelled, heard, tasted and touched. If it is helpful for you, draw a picture or write in your journal using plenty of adjectives. Bring the mo- ment to life by taking time to remember grounded joy. Spend a few minutes living it. Now imagine that you can transfer that feeling to your every- day activities. What would it be like to feel santosha when your kid is melting down in the grocery store or you get stuck in free- way traffi c when you're running late? Think your blood pressure might go down? What about those stomach pains or tension headaches you get when you are anxious? Traditional yoga classes of the West are a great place to be- gin your practice of contentment. In these classes we lengthen and strengthen our bodies, and we can do the same for our minds. As you wait for class to begin, remember the feelings of santosha you cultivated in the above exercise. If you have trou- ble diving right into the sensation, go through your memory us- ing the senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight to hone in on the situation and the feelings of contentment it produced. Once class begins, notice any negative sensations that come up. What physical holdings do you notice? Is your breath con- stricted? Is your jaw tight? Consciously breathe deep into your 20 wholelifetimes.com

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