Definition - What does Santosha mean?

Santosha is the second niyama ("virtue") described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. It denotes contentment and a lack of desire for what others have. The term is derived from the Sanskrit sam, meaning “completely” or “altogether,” and tosha, meaning “contentment” or “acceptance." Altogether, it may be translated as "complete contentment."

Santosha is generally considered to be both an attitude and a state of deep inner peace. Through practicing santosha, the yogi is freed from cravings and desires. When they are free from such influences, they are also free to pursue their own calling without fear or manipulation. This is considered an essential part of spiritual development.

Yogapedia explains Santosha

Many yogic texts discuss santosha and it is manifested or practiced on a number of levels:

  • Intent: putting one's best efforts into any action, then accepting whatever results come from doing so.
  • Inner state: a mindset of contentment also supports other virtues like compassion, non-grasping and non-stealing.
  • Expression: the outward manifestation of santosha is the appearance of serenity and total satisfaction, without superfluous desires.

Santosha is closely related to equanimity, in that practicing it allows one to accept whatever circumstances present themselves, including pleasure, pain, success or failure.

It is said that santosha helps the yogi to develop a better relationship with him/herself. They learn to accept and be content with the way they are, rather than making their happiness dependent on achieving certain goals, or changing aspects of themselves.

In yoga, santosha can be exercised through asana practice, by accepting oneself and by accepting the body's limitations, rather than striving for more.

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