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Practicing contentment in lean times

Most of us are feeling the pinch these days. As a full-time yoga teacher for the past 23 years, I've approached my classes as a service rather than a business. Consequently, I have almost no wiggle room to absorb the tough economic times. Still, I've been able to survive--so far--by cutting back on some of the frivolous spending I'd become accustomed to. Because "recreational" spending is not an option at this time, I no longer spend a lot of mental energy on wanting things. This has been freeing. Instead of focusing on what is lacking in my life, I practice appreciating what I do have in abundance--my health, good friends, a congenial family, my partner, my music, my yoga classes and my wonderful feline friends.

Santosha, the cultivation of contentment, is one of the guiding principles of yoga. Contentment allows us to be free and at ease in each moment. Are you "doing without" because of the economy? What has the effect been? What is the difference between the energy of wanting and the energy of contentment? Please share your ideas for practicing santosha.

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About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice, published by Rodmell Press. Her second book, Yoga for Meditators (Rodmell Press) was published in May 2012. She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to schools and to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

4 thoughts on “Practicing contentment in lean times”

  • Tabitha

    I always attempt to approach my asana practice with a sense of contentment. I know it sounds crazy, but try smiling in Utkatasana (Chair Pose), instead of gripping your teeth. It feels so much better! After I’ve finished my joyful 60 min. practice, I can almost guarantee the rest of my day will be filled with Santosha, it’s addicting. Peace.

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