Yesterday afternoon, after a perfectly fine morning of teaching and practicing yoga, I found my motivation come to a screeching halt, as I suddenly felt like wallowing in misery. wtf…? It never ceases to amaze me what moody and mercurial creatures we are (well, at least I am). I fought it, pushed through some items on my to-do list, had a lovely cup of tea, but the urge to sigh and be melancholy overwhelmed. My 4-year old daughter was also out of sorts, keenly disappointed that husband had just left town on a biz trip and it was dad’s night at school. The evening had the potential for lots of crankiness. I’m not sure what made me think of it, but I recalled a quote from David Life of Jivamukti Yoga, one of the many yoga gems I’ve collected over the years: the best way to uplift your own life is to uplift the lives of others. I was suddenly motivated to create a special girls’ night for me and Morgane, and lo and behold I had a positive mood swing. We made a fire, she colored while I perused cooking mags, we made popcorn, and eventually snuggled up in bed. I listened to her breathe while she slept, thinking that it was the most relaxing sound in the world.
And I was thinking about santosha, one of the niyamas from the second limb of Patanjali‘s eight limbs of yoga. The niyamas are observances, actions that a yogi takes concerning himself/herself. Santosha is contentment. In other words, it’s high on the to-do list. Be content with what’s at hand and stop always wanting more. It’s the always wanting more that can get us into trouble; and even more so, for me it’s the not recognizing all that I have that breeds discontent.
I experienced santosha because I was able to see all that I had yesterday evening, instead of letting the bad feelings take over. The best way to uplift your own life is to uplift the lives of others – helping my daughter feel better made me feel better too. This is also why I think that I teach yoga, why I so enjoy cooking for people. I’m not saying it’s going to happen on a daily basis. After all, I’m mercurial (I really love that word). But when practicing an observance, often times you need to work to make it happen.
I’m no expert in yoga philosophy. But part of what I believe is so appealing about yoga is its timelessness; we can take ancient ideas and apply them to modern life, proving that these concepts are alive, well and extraordinarily useful thousands of years after their creation. I’m kicking off a Cowgirl Yoga philosophy exploration with this post – I will aspire to be lofty and eloquent, but am not promising anything. What I can promise is that I’ll try to have fun and keep it real, as I explore the process of wrangling the eight limbs of yoga with a yeehaw and a Namaste.