Samskaras (Sanskrit) are patterns that make up our conditioning. They can be positive or negative. The positive ones foster our growth and the negative ones can hinder it. Yoga can be a great way to free ourselves from our negative samskaras, or it can be a way we play them out.
My deepest negative samskaras are based on my feelings of not being enough. This results in a sense of needing to keep up, prove myself, and trying so hard at life. When I do some really honest self-inquiry I can see how, in my teaching life, where I still get caught by being competitive, showing off, or going to extremes. I must admit, I love extremes. I love passion, intensity and drama. A big lesson for me throughout my life has been to learn moderation, to live more in the middle way. I see this pattern reflected in my practice.
I read this and thought of my own journey:
“As a yoga teacher, I see several archetypes in my classroom, yet none so disquieting as the driven student who, goes to the extreme or attempts the most advanced variation of a pose. Not until he stresses his body to the point of injury might he notice the potential harm of this cycle.” Bo Forbes, psychologist and yoga teacher.
“Oooh, look at me, I’m so fancy, I can do everything”, my internal childlike dialog says. I’m not proud of this voice, but in honor of uncovering my own samskaras, I need to be deeply honest that it’s sometimes there. My hope is to teach from the pure place of being of service to others and letting go of self-interest.
What is our motivation within our yoga practice? I feel it is very brave to inquire and ask ourselves how are we using our practice? Is it to punish ourselves? To prove our perfection? To validate our worth?
Looking under the surface, slowing down, and growing in awareness of what we’re feeling moment to moment, offers us the opportunity to be free from our limiting patterns. It’s a great time to take contrary action. If we normally push to a pose, let’s try staying in the beginning phases. What does that bring up for us?
As a yoga teacher I always felt this pressure to accomplish these great challenging postures. It’s such a relief to be out of this quest and free of competition within myself. That’s not what I want yoga to be about for myself. All I want now is to be healthy and balanced. There is nothing to prove, we’re all stars just the way we are! It’s so liberating to let go of trying to keep up, and needing to be the best, to just BE.
‘The most beautiful thing is finding comfort in our own skin.’