The Yoga Tutor

Vasanas - Our Personal Vanities

[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 457 ]

Our subconscious mind is subtly impressed by what the yogis term vasanas. Vasanas are our individual tendencies, but they could perhaps be better described as our personal desires. The English word 'vanities' fits even better.

These vanities are based on ignorance and support an illusionary image of the Self and the world around us. The source of these vasanas, the Rishis have told us, is three-fold:

Loka Vasana is a false pride and sense of superiority, yet it could be just as easily a self-pitying or dejected state -- both resulting from one’s station or position in society. This is social, political, racial and religious pride. One is proud of their wealth, their family status, their business success, etc -- all transient and impermanent material states -- as if they had some real meaning or lasting value.

Deha Vasana is pride in one's physical appearance.

Vidya Vasana is intellectual and even spiritual pride, that sense of superiority because of one’s level of so-called education. Yet the irony is that most of what modern day culture considers to be knowledge is really just chunks of information which neatly fit someplace within the common perception of reality -- most of which has very little to do with true knowledge. In other words, most knowledge that people possess is ultimately useless misinformation, propaganda and cultural brainwashing.

Together with samskaras, these illusionary perceptions of the Self, as well as the subtle patterns of behaviour impressed upon the subconscious mind, bind the individual to this world, its cycle of birth and re-birth, and the law of karma. This is the lower mental state, under the control of the subconscious mind, within which most people live. It is precisely this influence of the subconscious over the being that yoga endeavours to overcome.

This low state of awareness, that which is under the constant direction of the subconscious habits and conditionings, is a self-perpetuating cycle because it causes one to continue to view the world and their surroundings, and also re-enforces their belief systems, based on the programming from past experiences (or past misconceptions).

Hence one continues to perceive, interpret and react the same erroneous way time after time, and continues to manifest the same reality for themselves over and over again. This is in keeping with the saying "when you do what you’ve always done (or think what you’ve always thought), then you get what you’ve always gotten."

"Sow a thought, Reap an action
Sow an action, Reap a habit,
Sow a habit, Reap a characteristic,
Sow a characteristic, Reap a destiny!"


NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.

"The Science of Yoga is a course worthy of

leather binding and an honored place in the
finest libraries in the world 
... It is indeed a masterful work."


Dr. John Michael Christian


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