Sankalpa | Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone.

I’m sure it’s quite safe to assume that the majority of people reading this will have a resolution or two lurking around in the January brain fog. An idea, formed with good intentions and determination.

In yoga, we call a resolution a sankalpa and the way we think about it is slightly different than how we tend to think about New Year’s resolutions as a society. New Year’s resolutions are typically born out of a mindset that suggests that somehow we must change who we are to become BETTER, and happier. A sankalpa however is considered an expression of heartfelt desire that comes from deep within and leads us back to our true self, the self that is always happy/healthy/compassionate/abundant but that has maybe lost its way a little, resulting in us indulging in behaviors that ultimately do not serve us. Setting a sankalpa then, is seen as a return to self, not a departure from it.

What this means is that we are already beautifully blessed with every resource we need to achieve our goals and aspirations, we simply need to focus our minds and energy on allowing the true self to be heard above the persistent voice of the ego, which petitions only our superficial needs. If we can recognise our resolutions not as an uphill struggle for an out of reach goal, but as a true request from the deepest parts of ourselves for better health, happiness, etc. then we are more likely to understand the value of adjusting our choices and behavior to meet that need, and less likely to allow our motivation to fizzle out somewhere around mid January. Whatever your sankalpa, I invite you to call it to mind during your yoga practice, a place where the ego quietens down to make way for the truth the body and the breath are here to tell.

I have chose Virabhadrasana II for our pose of the month to embody the idea of setting resolutions/sankalpa. The legs are grounded firmly on the mat, displaying steadfast determination, and the pose rests on the cusp of the New Year, finding balance between the pull of the front arm towards the bright future, and the reach of the back arm backwards- honoring the past. The gaze (drishti) is softly focused over the front middle finger. Eyes on the prize my friends, eyes on the prize.

Warm up with a couple of sun salutations and then follow the steps below.

1.     Step the feet wide on the mat; the back edge of the back foot should be parallel with the short end of the mat. The front toes face forwards.

2.     Bend the front knee so that the front leg forms a right angle. Make sure that the front knee does not track forwards of the ankle, and that you can see the big toe of the front foot. If you can’t see it, then roll the knee out a little by engaging through the glutes.

3.     Root down firmly into the edge of the back foot. Back leg is straight.

4.     Extend one arm forwards and one back, stack the shoulders in line with the hips, and keep the fingers engaged.

5.     To refine:

·       Imagine both inner thighs rolling up towards the ceiling

·      Drop tailbone towards floor and lift through pelvic floor and lower belly

·      Soften the shoulders away from the ears

·      Draw the lower ribs in

6.     Breath fully in this pose for 5-10 breaths, holding your sankalpa in mind and keeping the gaze steady over the front middle finger.

7.     Repeat on the other side.

By Jasmine Pradhan from Jasmine teaches Hatha yoga (sometimes dynamic, sometimes slower) with an open heart and an open mind. She believes that every individual already has the tools they need to achieve true happiness and wellbeing, and that sometimes they just need a little help discovering them. She truly believes that a dedicated yoga practice can be the key to that toolbox, and aims to facilitate that discovery for her students.  Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any new physical activity. Always practice under the supervision of a qualified teacher.