Saturday, 13 January 2018

Sankalpa V new year's resolutions

Resolving – to do or not to do

I am not sure I am that fond of making resolutions. I think it can make us dwell on our bad points. So many people say: "I must give up cake/alcohol/coffee, lose weight, get a better job" .... Probably admirable but if you make a resolution like that it surely means you are unhappy about yourself and being overly critical.
Yoga students often "resolve" to try harder, attend more classes and beat themselves up about not being able to do a particular pose. Maybe that sounds perfectly fine, but again it is a negative way of approaching yoga practice.

Perhaps it is the languaging. Just phrasing the resolution as a positive intention — like the sankalpa (a brief postitive intention or resolve we make during certain yoga practices), can create a totally different mindset, reaction and ultimately a better outcome. Goal setting but without the aggression! Of course we are working towards a goal with a Sankalpa — it may be that your Sankalpa is  something like "I have a job I love", if you are seeking that, or " I am healthy" if you are suffering from a long term illness, but it could equally be "I am happy",  "I trust my intuition" or "I find my path in life". A Sankalpa is always brief, couched in positive terms and something that you feel will bring about a good change in your life. 

Formulating a Sankalpa that resonates deeply isn't always easy. Generally it is private, not shared with anyone and personal to you alone. A Sankalpa is generally repeated often, using the same words each time, and kept for a long time. When it comes to fruition you may choose a new one, if it was a short term goal. There are times when you might choose a short one, usually times of transition, as in pregnancy, a Sankalpa may be "I have everything I need to birth my baby', or  "I am a confident mum". Sometimes with teens, a yoga teacher might suggest ideas to help set them thinking, or they may end up sticking with materialistic "wishes" about the latest iphone or wads of cash! Theirs could be "I am successful", or "I know what I want to to", and a common one is "I am confident".

For kids and teens, thinking about and repeating a Sankalpa can help them take ownership of their thoughts and feel a little more in control of their life and future. Decision making and sifting through choices can be very hard for anyone, a chance to be quiet, listen to what your heart or inner voice is saying is a useful tool to staying calm.

Yoga Nidra, deep guided relaxation, is the best time to repeat your sankalpa but you can also do it before a yoga or pranayama practice, as you are settling into meditation, or first thing in the morning when the mind is a little less clouded.
When you repeat your sankalpa, especially in the deep relaxed state of Yoga Nidra, or meditation, you are planting a seed for something to grow and bear fruit, and hopefully it will. It seeps into your unconscious.

So back to yoga resolutions. There's a saying in yoga, to observe ourselves without judgement. Every individual and body type suits some groups of postures more than others, and we should all acknowledge what we are good at and choose to get in touch with the subtleties of yoga, observing the breath and how different postures, breathing exercises and styles of practice affect our thoughts and emotions, rather than strive to create what we think is a picture perfect pose. That said, I am very glad when people take up yoga and resolve to enjoy it more regularly ;)
When we are deeply relaxed in Yoga Nidra, we are more receptive,
the perfect time to plant the seeds of your Sankalpa