Welcome to September! Where did the summer go?
In my mind, September is the 2nd January of the year and it is motivating me to make some healthy changes. The shift from summer to fall just feels like new beginnings. It must be all those years of starting a new school year in September that ingrained that feeling into me.
In yogic philosophy, ingrained behavior is often referred to as a samskara. Samskara is a Sanskrit word, sam = complete or joined and kara = action, cause or doing. It has been explained to me by my teachers as a deep groove. All of our habits (good and bad) are samskaras. They are deeply ingrained into our behavior, sometimes so much so that we aren’t even aware of them anymore. There’s a great yoga journal article that talks more about samskaras here.
The concept of samskara is supported by neuroscience too. Neuroscientists often say neurons that fire together wire together. So, the more often you perform a behavior, the more quickly it becomes ingrained and the more likely you are to repeat that pattern of behavior.
I just spent a week in training with Robin Rothenberg, learning her Essential Low Back Program. It is an amazing NIH studied program that found her particular asana sequence was as much as 15% more effective than physical therapy! I am looking forward to offering that program to you in the future.
One of the main themes of Robin’s program that profoundly impacted me is the concept that one’s various aches and pains may be created and reinforced every day through samskaras of faulty body alignment. For example, let’s say you often have right hip pain. Have you ever looked at how you stand regularly? Hmmm, maybe you stand with that hip jutting out? It may prove very worthwhile to explore the samskaras of all your postures, including standing, sitting and lying.
Perhaps you may feel that you lack discipline. Another inspirational speaker I often listen to, John Assaraf says, “…you are 100% disciplined to your current habit.” In other words, you are disciplined, you just have to change your focus.
This idea and exploration can also be applied to any new habit you may want to create. Change takes time, but you can change if you are committed to making the change and consistently practice the new samskara you want to create.
So, if in your big vision you see yourself with a regular yoga or meditation practice, the only way to create that practice is to do it regularly. Step 1 is to find a time of day that works for you. Step 2 is to practice for at least a couple of minutes EVERY DAY. You don’t have to start with a 20-minute meditation practice or a 60-minute yoga class. Just doing a small amount of time, even just 1 minute makes a difference! Setting the habit of what you do is more important than the intensity or the length of time doing it.
Don’t forget… neurons that fire together wire together! You have the power to create whatever big vision you have for yourself. It is the everyday practice that is really crucial for your brain to begin to wire the new habit into its regular processes, to create a new samskara. You don’t have to be perfect and always do exactly what you set out to do. Just the act of doing something begins the process of creating new neural networks in your brain.
I would love to see you in class this month, creating some new samskaras. Below is September’s schedule!
Full Moon Mandala, Compassionate Giver, Intermediate Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Monday Sep 4, 6-8pm $20
New Moon Mandala, Sacred Work, All Levels Restorative Yoga and Reiki
Sunday Sep 17, 6-8pm $20
Tuesday/Thursday Series, Samskara Exploration, Intermediate Practice
6-7:15pm $40 series, $65 5/class card, $15 drop-in.
Tuesday Sep 5, 12, 19, 26
Thursday Sep 7, 14, 21, 28
Wednesday Series, Love Where You Are Yoga Beginner Practice, Modified Yoga Practice
9:30-10:45am $40 series, $65 5/class card, $15 drop-in.
Sep 6, 13, 20, 27
Andrea Carvalho, musings on the journey to vibrant embodiment.