Santosa, the second of Patanjali’s five Niyamas, is the practice of finding contentment and acceptance in our lives and in ourselves. By cultivating santosa we increase our sense of balance, flow and peace on and off the mat. During asana practice we remind ourselves to accept where our bodies are today and work from there. We work with releasing judgements of poses, people and events and our attachments to any particular outcome. Through this effort we are better able to be completely in our now moment, acknowledging ourselves as we are, and each moment as it is.
Santosa can be a challenging practice, but in this area fathers are wise yogis. Dads are intrinsically great teachers of self acceptance. It’s Dads that do cannon balls into the pool with complete abandon. Fathers don’t care if they have hat hair after a round of golf. They have no concern if they’re wearing two different socks to go to the supermarket. It’s Dads who bring Popeye’s mantra “I yam who I yam” into everyday life.
The irony of transformation is that change is only possible when we have accepted no change. In the west we tend to put an emphasis on precision, performance and accomplishment in our yoga practice. It is a challenge to ensure that through our drive to be better than we are, we don’t lose our acceptance of who we are. Fathers have already figured this dilemma out. It makes no difference to a Father that he played 17 holes of terrible golf and lost 10 balls. If he plays one great hole, he’s thrilled. Exclamations of “Yea! I’m back. I am sooo good!” echoing through the fairway.