To lose weight?
To become fitter?
To start those foreign language classes you’ve been promising yourself?
To take that trip you’ve always wanted?
To learn to relax?
Whatever your New Year’s resolution – have you started yet? What positive steps have you taken so far towards your desired outcome?
This is where yoga comes in. Yoga is ALL about the mind – strengthening the mind, quietening the mind, in order to reach the goal of ultimate happiness – bliss.
When a friend suggested I write about New Year’s resolutions, I thought “I don’t know anything about New Year’s resolutions”! Then I thought of the sankalpa, and realised that it can be used in many different circumstances, for example, New Year’s resolutions!
For those who are familiar with the deep relaxation practice called Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) you may know about the sankalpa. It’s a resolve. There is often an opportunity towards the beginning of yoga nidra when you can state your resolve, your sankalpa, which is like planting a seed; then, towards the end of yoga nidra, you get the opportunity to re-state it – that’s like watering the seed so that it will grow in your mind.
Your sankalpa’s could be: “I am finding my true purpose in life”; or “I encourage my creativity to flow through my life.”
The sankalpa is a tool to focus energy, and generally speaking it relates to a sense of purpose, direction, for our lives. It’s a good idea to sit quietly and allow the right sankalpa to come to you; don‘t force it. Once you have found your sankalpa, say it mentally as often as you like.
However, we can also have “mini sankalpas”, which is where New Year’s resolutions come in. Keep this mini sankalpa, this resolution in your mind. Keep saying it over and over in your mind. The more it stays in your mind, the more likely you are to act on it.
Always state your resolve, your sankalpa, in the present tense.
For example, if your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, you might say something like, “I am gaining my ideal weight”, or “I easily lose excess fat”, or “Last year’s clothes fit me perfectly”. If you are ill, and your New Years resolution is to be healthy, you could say something like “I am becoming healthy”, or “Every day I get more and more healthy”. If you know there are various steps that have to be taken in order to achieve your desired outcome, you might have a slightly different resolve each morning. For example, if you have decided that you want to do the “grey nomad” thing and spend a year seeing Australia, then you might have a slightly different sankalpa each morning, like, “Today I’m researching the places I want to visit” and then the next day it might be “Today I’m finding out all I can about those places”.
Keeping your resolve in mind will help you to achieve it.
I said earlier (and have said frequently) that yoga is all about the mind – strengthening the mind. Using Sankalpa is one way. The asanas/postures that constitute the bulk of a yoga class also help to keep you on track with your New Year’s resolutions. We are frequently reminded to keep our eyes closed during yoga practice. With our eyes closed we are better able to be aware of the physical and mental effects of each practice.
There’s that word “aware” again.
As we become more aware of how our bodies and minds respond to various yoga practices, we are more easily able to recognise those stimuli that either spur us on or deter us from our resolutions and goals [I know which stimulus deters me from my resolutions, so I’m thinking of suing the supermarkets for placing chocolate chai almonds where I have difficulty avoiding them!]
So, as we do our yoga practices, be aware that as well as strengthening our bodies, we are also strengthening our minds, and our will-power.
Having thought that I didn’t have anything to say about New Year’s resolutions, I find myself with too much to say, so I’m going to start a new blog, but I will give you a clue as to what it’s about. While I was thinking I couldn’t write about New Year’s resolutions, I was standing next to my fridge when I saw a piece of paper on it that’s been there literally for years; it says, “Tapasya….austerity…. Preparation, strengthening our bodies and minds so that we become confident to stand up and fulfill our potential”.
So… till we meet again, Hari Om