New Offerings and Santosha

First some important announcements.

1. Satmato Yoga Therapy got approval from the city to start building a yoga studio at our home in Rainier Beach!  Stay tuned for ways you can be involved in the New Year.

2. Starting in January, I will have some new schedule changes. I am sad to say I will be giving up a couple classes at Lotus Yoga, but excited to say I will be offering two new classes at a home studio in the Central District.

The first new class will be a return to an evening Yoga for Depression series on Wednesdays at 5:30pm (beginning Jan. 22). The second new offering will be a Yoga and Meditation series on Wednesdays from 7-8:15pm (beginning Jan. 22). These classes are limited to 10 people. Pre-registration will be $140 for a 10-week series or $17 to drop-in on one class (if space is available). To reserve your spot email Satmato Yoga Therapy.

3. Satmato Yoga Therapy has gift certificates for your loved ones! Also, for every $100 you spend in December, you will receive a $10 credit towards a future session (Thai Yoga or private yoga) of your own! Give the gift of a relaxing and rejuvenating Thai Yoga session, or a private yoga session aimed at refining your practice or introducing someone to yoga. You could also look ahead to spring and use a gift certificate to secure a spot in the Embracing Balance Retreat (more information below). To purchase gift certificates email Satmato Yoga Therapy.

4. My Yoga Therapy rates will be going up in 2014. However, if you book your first session between now and December 19, you will automatically maintain my current rate for 6 months ($115/75 minutes). If you’ve been thinking about trying out yoga therapy, now is the time! If you are a current client, you will automatically be grandfathered into this rate for 6 months. Contact me know if you have any questions about this rate change.

Now, onto the topic of santosha, or contentment. Santosha is an aspect of the 2nd limb of yoga (there are 8 limbs). I believe the practice of santosha is like a muscle that we can make stronger, much like the strengthening of our biceps or quads in our yoga asanas (poses). But, how is it that we strengthen our contentment muscles? And, what exactly is contentment?

To me, contentment is a sense of ok-ness. It is knowing that I am ok even when I do not feel ok. It is acknowledging that I am, we are, it is, all right. It does not mean that things are not difficult. It does not mean that I am happy all the time. It is not a denial of my experience. In fact, it is much more of an expansion of my experience.

Recently a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. On her Facebook page she wrote: I am ok, and I will be ok. This is a beautiful example of santosha. Does her statement mean she is not scared, or tired, or anxious? No, she is having all those experiences, and at the same time, there is another part of her that knows she is ok having those experiences. She is ok experiencing cancer, fear, heaviness and anxiety because that is her direct experience. And yet, she is also experiencing gratitude, laughter, connection and love. She has a deep sense of ok-ness even as she experiences the full range. Our more comfortable or desirable experiences do not need to cancel out the more challenging ones. All of these experiences can be there, and they can be ok there. This is the true essence of santosha.

My friend has had a lot of practice strengthening her santosha muscle, and it’s been inspiring to keep watching her muscles flex. Here are some practices that I have noticed in others and have practiced myself as ways to cultivate this ok-ness.

1. Notice when life naturally feels a-ok. I know that I often disregard these times. I can see them as boring because neither strong pain nor strong pleasure is happening. We all experience contentment on occasion (probably more often than you think).

2. Practice gratitude. When life is throwing us challenging experiences it can seem as if that is all life holds. Yet, even in these moments, there are things to be grateful for. Some of these daily gratitudes we might take for granted could include: easy access to food, a home, the abilities to taste, touch, smell, see and hear, feeling sunshine or the warmth of a hat on a cold, winter day.

3. Acknowledge what is. When I stop fighting what is (i.e. depression, anxiety, grief, discomfort, etc.), I can usually handle it much easier. The discomfort is one thing, but when I fight the discomfort, I am actually adding discomfort to discomfort. That just leads to more discomfort! Easier said than done. This is a practice, just like gratitude. I can touch my discomfort for a moment, acknowledge that it is there and then move on. I do not have to wallow in it, but I can touch it briefly as a way to drop the fight and as a way to be ok with the discomfort that is there regardless of whether I am fighting it or not.

4. Use the affirmation, “I am ok.” It is simple, and it can often help bring us back to the present moment. Part of not feeling ok is re-living the past (i.e. If that didn’t happen my life would…) or projecting into the future (i.e. this conversation is going to go terribly and then…). If I can drop the story (and the fight that goes with the story), I can settle into what is right now. Then I can tell myself that I am ok or I will be ok. According to santosha, you are ok even if you don’t think you are ok!

5. What ways do you strengthen your santosha muscle? I would love to hear!

This month I am offering a root chakra meditation. This short 10-minute guided meditation invites you to explore this energy center, providing some grounding during this holiday season. Enjoy!