Humans are creatures of habit; both in our cycle of thoughts and our actions. In sanskrit the word for habit is Samskara. This past week I was reminded that our thoughts create our feelings; our perspective on events or moments create the emotions we have inside. We have the power to develop a positive thought process that can create happy feelings or we can take the opposite path of negativity. That choice is something each of us can own for ourselves. We can choose to create the Habit of Happiness.
This past week I asked my students to cultivate the habit of happiness both on and off their mats. Just like any other habit, the habit of happiness is created with repetition over time. Asana is a great way to cultivate a positive practice of repetition. As we began our asana practice with a slow flow I changed it up by adding in some Janu Sirsana A’s, Star Gazers and even flipped Downward Dog (pictured above). These additions to our vinyasa required students to roll off their mats and then roll back on. It is quite amazing how just small changes in the expected routine can create new inspiration and a fresh perspective or create negative emotions by throwing our equilibrium off.
On the mat we cultivate positive Samskaras by building Strength, Flexibility & Balance in the body. The strength gives us power, the flexibility creates resiliency and balance offers steadiness and focus of mind and body. Equal parts of these three is what allows us to grow the positive Samskaras of our practice on the mat. Off the mat, these three; Strength, Flexibility & Balance; are equally powerful in creating the Habit of Happiness.
It is empowering once we realize that we are largely in control of our own happiness. How we perceive a certain action by someone else (the emotions we have about the action) can completely effect our feelings about the event and the person. Having Strength, Flexibility & Balance in the mind aides us in the practice of giving someone the benefit of the doubt; and therefore positively affects our emotions about the event or person. This practice can help us create the Habit of Happiness.
As we moved mindfully through our final few postures and into Savasana, I asked my students to let go of their bodies and to more deeply cultivate the positive Samskaras in the mind. As we sat together for our final meditation, I wished for my students to bring the Habit of Happiness with them off the mat. I felt gratitude for both the opportunity to guide them in this practice both on and off the mat and for the reminder that practicing the Habit of Happiness is a Samskara that can never be practiced too much. Namaste.