American Institute of Vedic Studies



Santosha, the Yogic State of Inner Contentment


Santosha, the yogic state of contentment, is not ordinary contentment, such as being happy personally with who are, what we own, or having our desires fulfilled. It is not mere complacency or being satisfied with outward enjoyments.

Santosha is the contentment and peace that arises from dwelling in our true nature, the inner Self and Seer, Atman or Purusha, no longer dependent upon anything from the external world to fulfill us. Santosha is an inner satiation with our own Being.

Santosha is the last of the Yamas and Niyamas, the principles and practices of yogic and sattvic living, and represents their culmination or fulfillment.


Nature of Santosha

Santosha is inherent in the Purusha, our true Self whose nature is Ananda, peace and bliss beyond thought. It requires affirming our inner Self as eternal, infinite, complete, and all-pervading. Santosha is connected to Purnam, the state of fullness that is the nature of Brahman, the Cosmic Reality, which holds everything manifest or unmanifest as its own Self-effulgence.

How then do we cultivate Santosha? It begins with changes of attitudes and reactions in life. We must give up all petty mindedness, all mere gossip or worry, all sense of expectation, frustration or demand from others. If we are content in our true Self, then we no longer need to pressure others to do what we want, or manipulate the outer world for our personal happiness. We become givers of happiness, not seekers after it from someone else.


Santosha and Samadhi

Santosha prepares the mind for Samadhi, the unitary state of Consciousness that is the goal of Yoga and the basis for Self-realization. Samadhi is not simply a trance or state of ecstasy, but the ultimate state of peace and contentment.

For the composure of Samadhi to be possible, we must let go of attachment to negative emotions. Often, we are more attached to our negative emotions, particularly anger, jealousy and grief, than to our own positive joy and happiness. We must be willing to let go of the negativities of the mind in order transcend them. Cultivating the contentment of our inner Self allows us to do this.

Santosha is an enduring balance of awareness, in which we are no longer caught in the dualistic movements of the mind as attraction and repulsion. One who has this inner Santosha can never be intimidated or disturbed by what may happen externally in this uncertain world.

Santosha is best represented by the serenity of Shiva Mahadeva, the supreme Yogi, who blesses us with silence, steady vision, calm and contentment beyond all thought. Shiva has the Santosha of the universal mountain of Consciousness.


Santosha and Yoga Practices

Every aspect of Yoga practice, not just Yamas and Niyamas, is designed to promote Santosha and requires it for its full accomplishment.


The right practice of Asana should lead us to a sense of contentment, balance and harmony in our physical state and posture, an organic and metabolic equilibrium, a sense of ease and relaxation.

Pranayama should lead us to a state of contentment in our deeper vital energy, with our prana and breath, deep, balanced, and peaceful, rooted in the eternal lifeforce of our inner Self, not simply in the air that we breathe.

Pratyahara is not simply control of the senses, but no longer requiring outer sensory pleasures to make us happy. If we can turn our senses within, we can learn to see the world as a manifestation of the light of Consciousness. Contentment draws in yogic sensory impressions into us, both from the world of nature and our own inner senses like the third eye.

Dharana is a state of steady attention and concentrated one-pointed awareness. This is only possible if we have an inner state of contentment to sustain it. Otherwise, our minds will be disturbed and distracted. Dharana should lead us to a state of contentment in holding our attention.

Dhyana is the steady and expansive meditative state of Self-awareness, in which we are content in the Being of all, no longer looking outward to make the mind happy or peaceful.

Samadhi leads us to the ultimate contentment in the Ananda of unitary Consciousness.


Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of Devotion, has its own special state of contentment resting in Divine love parama prema and the bliss of devotion.

Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of Knowledge, draws us into a transcendent contentment from knowledge of our inner Self and realization of the ultimate truth beyond all outer limitations.

Karma Yoga, the Yoga of action, takes us to an inner contentment in all that we do, making our actions become an offering to the Divine within, not a mere personal striving.

Hatha Yoga is based upon the contentment gained through practices of asana, pranayama, mudra, and bandha, leading us by degrees to the harmony of all our energies.

Raja Yoga is based upon cultivating the attitude of contentment within us and around us. Santosha is the ultimate attitude of Raja Yoga that balances and integrates every aspect of our being, outwardly and inwardly.

The supreme contentment in Yoga is resting in the bliss of the thousand petal lotus of the head, our transcendent awareness beyond the physical body from which the nectar of ananda flows.


In Ayurveda, deep contentment arises through developing Tarpak Kapha, the subtype of Kapha giving mental and emotional contentment and harmony in brain and nerve function. Contentment brings about healing and wellness to both body and mind.


Yet inner contentment or Santosha is not something we can pursue or run after, which process itself breeds discontent. True Santosha is recognizing the contentment inherent in Sat-chit-ananda, Being-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute which we when we let go of desire. You abide in boundless of Santosha when you are true to your inner Self, regardless of what occurs in the world around you.


Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)



Latest Articles

Embodied Mind and Transcendent Consciousness

We human beings are embodied creatures defined by our birth in a particular physical body as indicating our real identity and the focus of our lives. Our minds are not only located in the body but ruled by an entire set of bodily needs, imperatives, appearances and actions and their daily functions. Our physical body is our personal image, starting with our face and form and the clothes we put around the body. We see ourselves as a bodily intelligence operating through the brain, senses and motor organs. This is the basis of our survival, development and happiness in life.

Read More »

Kali as the Yuga Shakti: the Power to Create a New World Age

By Yogini Shambhavi   As the great power of time, Kali’s Shakti creates the different Yugas or world ages that humanity passes through during the long cycles of cosmic evolution. Kali is the Goddess of eternity watching over all our temporal changes and facilitating those which promote our inner growth. More specifically, Kali is the Yuga Shakti or the power of time that takes humanity from one world age to another. She works to sustain the spiritual energy of the planet through both the ages of light and darkness.   The awakening to the Divine Mother and the Great Goddess

Read More »

Comparison and the Incomparable Self

Your inner Self (Atman) and true nature cannot be compared to anything. It has no name, form or action, no shape, size or color. It is beyond all elements and qualities of nature. It is beyond body and mind, time and appearance altogether. It dwells within everything yet is not limited to anything. At most we can compare it to space and light. Your inner Self is what it is, which is the Being of all. The Self ever abides in its own fullness, peace and ananda. That Self is what you really are, not what you think you are

Read More »

Shiva Ayurveda – The Yogic Power of Healing and Transformation

Most Ayurvedic practitioners look upon Lord Dhanvantari, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, as the deity of Ayurveda and ideal doctor. Certainly that is an important tradition worthy of following based on profound Puranic stories and symbolism. Yet in the Rigveda, the oldest Vedic text, and Shruti or book of mantric vision of the Rishis, the primary doctor and healer is Rudra, the main Vedic name for Shiva. Rudra is lauded in the Rigveda as the supreme doctor  (bhishaktamam tva bhishajam shrinomi). In the famous Rudram chant of the Yajurveda, in which the mantra Namah Shivaya first occurs, Rudra is the

Read More »

Winter Solstice, Galactic Center and New Time of Troubles

I have been writing for some years about 2020 as indicating the beginning of a “New Time of Troubles” for humanity, dangerous from 2020-2028, but continuing long beyond that. This relates astronomically to the Winter Solstice point transiting the Galactic Center in the constellation of Sagittarius. It is difficult to determine exactly owing to large gas clouds around the Galactic Center, and as it is slowly moving its effects may last for decades. 2020-2021 marked the transit of Ketu, the South Node of the Moon or Tail of the Serpent, one of the two eclipse points, over this same region

Read More »

The Ancient Yoga of the Sun

For the Winter Solstice December 21, which marks the rebirth of the Sun and Agni What if the most powerful force for energizing all Yoga practices were as obvious and visible as the Sun? The fact is that it is. The Sun, properly understood not merely as an outer but as an inner energy source, reflects the supreme light of Yoga both in our own hearts and in the world of nature around us.   If we look at traditional and ancient cultures from throughout world, we discover a strong awareness of the Sun as a spiritual force, and as

Read More »

Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, the third highest civilian award granted by the government of India, “for distinguished service of a higher order to the nation,” honoring his work and writings as a Vedic teacher, which he received in January 2015.