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How often have you heard yourself say, I’ll be happy when…

When the renos are done,

When your work project finishes,

When you lose those last few pounds…

Santosha [Contentment] is the second Niyama outlined in the 8 limbs of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The Yamas & Niyamas are the ethical-moral guidelines a practicing yogi aspires to. Yama’s are like the “Don’ts” (the restraints) while the Niyamas are the “do’s” (observances).

We can gain so much from observing contentment, but to meet each moment feeling satisfied, to be able to see beauty and abundance every moment is no easy feat.

Our human conditioning often keeps us in the mindset that we need to acquire more in order to be happy. Because of Avidya (our primal ignorance) we do not realize our inner abundance, and therefore seek “out there” for ways to fill us up. Marketing and advertising preys on this lack mentality in order for us to consume more of their products that ensure you will make you happy.

The need to practice contentment is so relevant in these times. Practicing contentment can help us recognize the fullness and richness of our lives- no matter “how much” we may actually have.

Practicing Contentment:

· Our true nature, is one of abundance and permanence. This abundance lies within us, and everyone. As Psalm 46:10 and many other spiritual traditions say, “Be Still and Know”- It reminds us to take time to be quiet, and know this deep peace within you. No matter what is happening in the outer world, if we can take time to still our minds and listen to our hearts, we will know this inner abundance.

· Practice Gratitude- If we have a hard time stilling the mind, then give it a job! Make that job gratitude. As Deborah Adele writes in her book Yamas and Niyams, “Practicing gratitude protects us from our own pettiness and smallness and keeps us cantered in the joy and abundance of our own life”. It is here too, where we realize this abundance is infinite and there is more than enough for everyone to radiate in.

· Maintaining your centre: Something I come back to again and again is recognizing that every moment is complete in itself. If we are seeking contentment it eludes us. Can we sit with whatever comes up in the moment and ride the highs and lows and be still centered within our Self at the same time? This is the practice of yoga- to be in the world but not of the world. To become detached from our sensory attachments in the relative reality to give us happiness, and totally embodied in out permanent peace that lies deep within us all.

In seeking contentment, remember that everything you seek is within you already. Although these practices help us recognize it, it's not something "out there" it's something that's always been with you!

Don’t Let your fear of what could happen, make nothing happen.

Overcoming self-doubt is something we all have to pass through at some point in our lives. Chances are you have entered the mental ring with self-doubt many times and have been beaten down with thoughts like, “I can’t do this”, “What if I mess up?”, “I’ll make a fool of myself” or “I’m not smart enough…talented enough…experienced enough” and so on.

We all have great inner power. The power is self-faith. You have to see yourself winning before you win.

- Arnold Schwarzenegger

Fear and doubt have left me in an immobilizing limbo far too many times to count, leaving me stuck between my dreams and any action plan of moving towards them. This place of limbo is where you enter the “second round” and you start beating yourself up for beating yourself up with thoughts like, “I know better than to self-criticize”, “I just need to do go for it”, “It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, I’m doing it for myself” and so on.

Over the years I have met so many capable, talented and creative individuals who sell themselves short because of their own self-doubt. Out of fear that they don’t have what it takes to succeed, they put their dreams on hold, stifling their creativity and missing the opportunity to share their gifts with the world.

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

- Suzy Kassem

When I first started my business I was overcome with so many fears. I was the first entrepreneur in my family so going out on my own had me questioning my sense of security and responsibility. It drove me crazy having so much passion and desire to share but wasn’t doing anything about it. Eventually it was that deep inner desire that tipped the scales and made me take a leap of faith. I still often feel self-doubt & fears, but I feel much more equipped to work through them now.

How can we build our strength to knock out our fears and doubts?

Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Overcome small fears on a regular basis

Take some baby steps! it doesn’t have to all happen at once. Work towards your goals in small increments. Let this build your confidence, so once you are ready to jump you will jump with full faith. When you feel doubts or fears creeping in- take action. Every time you take action when confronted with fears or doubts, you weaken their power and strengthen your own.

2. Don’t believe everything you think

Our fear-fuelled thoughts are nothing more than stories in our heads. Question your own thought process. Ask yourself if your thoughts are based in fear or in faith? Try to flip your perspective by saying to yourself, “What if I am totally capable of accomplishing this”?

3. Name your Inner-Critic

My amazing friend Twyla Gingrich at Samya Yoga Healing, once took me through an amazing exercise that literally, makes your inner critic come to life. Think about those self-sabotaging thoughts, fears and doubts that plague you. Then draw out what you think this inner critic might look like. Once you draw him/her/it out, give it a name that best represents this doubting, fearful side of you. Next time your doubting mind comes out say to yourself, “Hey Fearful Franny, that’ll be enough!”. Sometimes naming your fear and giving it an identity brings to light just how untrue these thoughts are. It allows us to give some detachment from “doubting Debbie’s” thoughts and thoughts that are true.

4. Let your passion be bigger than your fear

What are your dreams? Why are they so important to you? In my heart I knew I had to share yoga in my own way. I wasn’t sure how that would look. My faith and trust in knowing that Yoga can really help people find peace was what pushed me through all of my “what ifs”. I let my excitement and my “why” (the reasoning for my mission) become bigger than my fear. I took action and followed where my passion directed me.

5. Find your supporters

I owe so much of facing my fears to those who have supported me and my dreams. Find your motivators, the people who believe in you, your inspirations, your cheerleaders. These people are pivotal to creating a support group around you. These people are the ones you can share your doubts with and have them remind you of how capable you really are. I am so indebted to my awesome support team!

What tips do you have for overcoming fears and following your heart? I want to hear from you!

Help me awaken the goddess within where she’s slumbered too many years away,

Until the lightning strikes within my chest again and thunder rolls within the words I say. I call upon the water rushing in my veins and I raise the winds within my soul. Help me wean wisdom from my past pains to help those in pieces again become whole.

-Cristen Rodgers.

Trying to write this isn’t easy- will people see me as fragile and broken? Will men perceive this as unfair? Will I be called bitter and resentful? The truth is about 8 years ago I learned the meaning of my name which means “little and womanly” in German and also “small champion” in Gaelic. I couldn’t get behind “little and womanly”, basically I took that as weak and pathetic and as I rolled my eyes explaining the meaning, my spiritual teacher told me, “There is so much strength in being a woman”. It was from that day on I began healing my relationship to my own feminine nature. It’s been through that healing and ultimate empowerment I can access a state of vulnerability and openness that allows me to share freely, unapologetically and in a way that I hope holds space for others to do the same.

I want every girl to know that her voice can change the world.

-Malala Fund

There isn’t one woman I have spoken to that has not felt the inevitable plight of being a woman. The double standards, the constant sexual harassment, the normal worries about safety, losing out on job promotions, getting less pay and the ingrained brainwashing of societal expectations we as women have, even when we know we don’t have to comply to these standards any longer, we still sometimes act on them.

Maybe it’s just my experience of growing up in a small rural Canadian town that breeds a certain amount of acceptable misogyny- I myself grew up trying to stand out amongst the other girls for being tough, athletic but not “butch”, yet still beautiful and feminine enough to receive the coveted, “you’re not like those other girls” compliment from my male counterparts. The truth is I was always like those other girls, just my way to gain respect was to be a sporty “tough” girl…. and how I wish I stood with up for all the girls, banishing any divide between our sisterhood. Just like every other woman, over the years I have faced a lot of misogyny and the fear/shame/ickiness that comes with it.

My journey hasn’t been about wallowing in the past, it’s been about deeply looking into how these experiences had kept me so closed off from my feminine energy and how stuffing it away created such a disconnect to untapped creativity, love and potential within me.

The interesting thing is that I didn’t even realize it had happened because it was a natural process of adjusting myself in a predominantly masculine society. I thought that feminism and true “girl power” meant being just as strong, tough and assertive as men are. The way I modeled that was by being “tough, in-control, confident” (defensive, anxious, overcompensating) not realizing that all of these were really just side effects of all the heart-armour I put up over the years to fit in, not get hurt, and survive as a naturally super-sensitive young woman.

We live in a society where there is so much emphasis on power and control, gaining resources, getting ahead and establishing yourself on so many different levels. This masculine energy is the energy of action, ambition and getting the job done. It is necessary and needed but it often results in overambition, energy depletion and illness. We need balance. We need to heal the feminine within all of us.

I always thought humanity has two wings, the male and the female, and these wings need to be equivalent in strength in order to fly.

-Justin Baldoni

Men and women both have equal parts masculine energy and feminine energy. Both sexes feel the strong effects of living with excess masculine energy. Often it makes men feel supressed, much in the same way I felt and in some ways probably even more so. I've talked to a lot of men who were told not to cry, and to "act like a man" when very much needed the support to be able to express through real and raw emotion. Somehow getting into bar fights and aggressive acts are deemed appropriate, while crying or venting through self-expression is not. Women’s voices feel stifled, their natural gifts of intuition, receptivity and soft qualities are devalued. Both sexes ability to express becomes compromised.

Masculine Energy vs Feminine Energy

doing vs being

active vs surrender

analytical vs intuitive

left brain vs right brain

assertive vs receptive

striving vs becoming

logical vs creative

thrusting vs receiving

hard vs soft

controlling vs allowing

In any given action we can be pulling from either energies. We need both in a balanced way to be productive members of society. If it’s all work and no play life seems bitter and hard. If it’s all play and no work we don’t feel stable and established. Both are a beautiful play of what yoga calls Shiva (masculine) and Shakti (feminine) energy. When these two energies come together we get unity, co-creation, connection and divine union. (This can be a whole other blog!)

My own healing started out by questioning my own biases I had towards femininity. As I began practicing yoga as a mental-physical-spiritual practice I began opening up to a whole new way of looking at being a woman. I took advantage of my natural emotional nature to the benefit of developing deep trust and devotion. Having yoga as a practice gave me a form of ritual to honour my femininityàthe grace and intentional flow of movement and breath, the discipline to conquer my restless mind, the courage to ask myself the deep questions, the patience to find the answers, the wisdom to listen to the needs of my body and my heart and trust to be able to let go of the need to be in control all of the time. I began to accept this soft side of mine then I began to honour it, love it and nourish it.

Change was among the stars

the moment she began to love


R.M. Drake

As this love grew inside of myself, so did my confidence to drop the heart armour that served me in the past. I started recognizing the power in the pause, in non-doing, in reflection in simply being. I started enjoying long walks instead of intense runs, I found a joy in learning to play music, painting, dancing, writing and meditating. All things I used to feel as value-less, and even if I did try any of these things I felt so awkward, embarrassed and insecure. I went from choking up and unable to express my feelings because they were so suppressed inside of me, to opening up and expressing from a place that was so true and powerful, a place of deep love and full trust I felt no shame in being vulnerable. I grew a tribe of the most incredible women around me, a sisterhood where there is no judgement and competition, instead boundless love, support and empowerment.

Now, I feel so at peace and grounded in this energy—I learned what my teacher told me, “there’s so much power in being a woman” and I do feel like a little, womanly, small champion!

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