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The Purpose of Yoga - Santosha for Your Health

Paul M. Jerard Jr.
Dec 6, 2007
What is Santosha and how can it help your health? Santosha is a moral observance (Niyama). Santosha literally means contentment or happiness. Yet, this is much more than a "Don't worry, be happy" guideline.

How often do people consider exercise, or diet, to be major factors, when they consider the state of their physical health? If you listen to any commercial on the radio or television, you will notice they address exercise and diet, almost exclusively. Physicians always mention exercise and diet as part of a preventative health program.

However, stress and happiness, are also major factors in good health. Too much stress can lower your resistance to allergies, pain, disease, and chronic illnesses. Stress, anxiety, and anger can shorten your life, just as well as a poor diet and lack of exercise.

A person with a negative frame of mind tends to eat poorly and usually does not bother to exercise. When we are in a "sad mental state," acid levels in the body and blood can rise, which may cause joint pain and lower our energy levels. Between poor eating habits, and the rise of acid levels in the body, the body becomes a breeding ground for all sorts of potential medical problems.

In comparison, people who are content, eat healthier and have a higher resistance to disease, as a result. Happiness will help people recover from illnesses much quicker, because they are in a positive frame of mind. With that said, happy people will live longer, simply because they are content.

So, how can we "bottle" Santosha? Contentment seems to slip through our fingers, and we cannot hold onto it for long. Is there a formula for being happy?

One method is to wake up every day and give thanks for what you have. Everyone has something to be grateful for. You can focus on it first thing in the morning, and thank God for what you do have. You can also thank yourself for the accomplishments you have made.

Releasing anger works for many people, but you have to be careful how you do it. Obviously, "telling everyone off," will reduce your number of friends, but anger is a natural emotion, even if it is not justified.

You could write everything down, which makes you angry. All of your bad feelings could go onto a piece of paper. Sleep on it, and after you have come to grips with it, you can burn it or shred it. Now, you can calmly and rationally deal with the issue or speak to the person, who has caused your rage.

Some people privately roll their car windows up and scream at the top of their lungs, on the way to work, or on the way home. A friend of mine swore his blood pressure would drop, as a result of this method. Regardless, pent up hostility should be released safely, privately, and carefully. The car should never be used as a tool for road rage.

To forgive others will release a tremendous burden from you. Holding in anger is much like walking around, "with the weight of the world, on your shoulders." You can forgive others for your own health, and you will find Santosha.

Copyright 2007 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
About the Author
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. He is an author of many books on the subject of Yoga and has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995.

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