Samskaras

The other day in yoga class, my teacher Heather, brought up this notion of samskara. It’s something I hadn’t heard of, but as I’m exploring, I’m finding that it’s something that I’m thinking about all of the time. And pretty much have for most of my life.

Samskara is a Sanskrit term that refers to our natural tendencies to be, act and feel in certain ways. Whether it stems from our conditioning, experiences or deeply rooted ideas about life, samskaras are grooves that we fall into on a regular basis. They can be positive or negative.

One example for me is feeling overwhelmed when I have too much stimuli coming at me or too many details/items to organize and take care of (both of these usually relate to our kiddos). I’m not sure if it’s because I tend to be overly anal, controlling, or thrive on peace, order and calm, but that’s likely it.

I’ve always been that way. I’m guessing it’s partly genetic as my mom and grandma both exhibit these tendencies, although one might argue to an even greater extent. It’s probably related to being the oldest child and being an “only child” until the age of five when my sister Patty was born. Any way you slice it, I’ve always needed to feel in control of my environment.

So what does yoga have to do with this and why is Heather bringing it up this concept of samskara in class? Because yoga has the power to dissolve our samskaras that might not be in our best interests. We use our experience of intense heat and focus (which happens during our asanas) to train ourselves to not attach and instead be open to new pathways and possibilities. Modes of being. Through the practice we turn inward and begin to drill down through some of these blockages, these tendencies that no longer serve us. By setting our intention we begin to create new tendencies that take root and grow.

This week I’m paying special attention to samskaras I wish to create in my life. I can already feel a spark happening on several fronts. I’m developing “less tight and constrained” ways of being. I’m developing healthier habits when it comes to nourishing my body. I’m starting to cut a groove in “upping” my game when it comes to creating and writing and moving onward and upward.

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