By: Suzanne Scholten
Last month our focus was ‘Samskara.’  Oftentimes people will lump ‘Samskara’ and ‘Vasana’ together, as we almost did, but as I was teaching and practicing to better understand my own samskaras, I started to feel the difference between these two sanskrit terms. We learned last month that samskaras are habits that have been formed from something as simple as hitting the snooze button too many times to something much deeper from childhood. The definition of ‘Vasana’ is ‘a coloring;’ a stronger, more active term for samskara. Thus the subtle impact of an action done with full awareness colors our intellect and when we “act in accordance with those colored perceptions, then the samskaras have become vasanas” -Tigunait (from the article: ‘What are Samskaras and How do they affect us?’ -October, 2014).

These subtle impressions lead to a greater change. As one looks at their destiny they realize they do have the willpower and determination to assist themselves to become a greater being of love, compassion and empathy. But as we live, our senses get the best of us and we start to follow our desires of pleasure and avert those actions that cause pain. Samskaras can also be made to assist us in reaching that higher state of samadhi. Our daily practice of stretching or asana allows the body to be ‘rewired’ and let go of our physical habits that affect our emotions. Pranayama works with the energy body to give us stamina to observe the traits that do not lead down the path of enlightenment and instead, create habits that do. The practice of savasana, when we practice pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), turns our focus inward. This authorizes the mind to be focused to give us a deeper awareness to pull away from traditional desires and be conscious when making decisions on our path of yoga. As you see, this slowly begins to change our daily habits which affect us on a much larger scale.

As you choose the practice of yoga, seated meditation, asana, the yamas and niyamas, we create these subtle samskaras which carry us to a deeper state of realization for liberation. This will affect our deeply rooted vasanas, that may have been there for generations, and will assist one in redefining their destiny. Do not let inertia get to you by feeling or thinking you have no say in this life or its outcomes. With our daily habits of practice both on and off the mat, the mind will move away from the concept of “I should do this and and I should do that” but instead we will perform our duty with love, focus, awareness and with utter joy!

Practice: Take time to devote your daily actions to a greater cause, including brushing your teeth! Observe why you do what you do and how this affects your state of peace. Set up a daily habit for practice: sitting, stretching, reading spiritual books or connecting whole heartedly with your family and friends.