Have you set any New Year’s resolutions for 2018? Many of us often do. If you have, I wish you success, but, sadly, it seems that many of our resolutions often fall by the wayside. We promise ourselves that we’re going to give up this or not do that. We’re going to lose weight, not eat chocolate or give up alcohol – I’m sure you know the sort of thing. What our resolutions often have in common is that we’re usually focusing on not doing something! By focusing on the negative before we even get started, it’s probably not very surprising that our resolutions don’t last very long! In a way, we’re setting ourselves up to fail and that in itself is not very motivating.
In yoga, we set an intention or Sankalpa. It is stated as a positive; an expression of what we already have within us, but may fail to recognise. It also praises the nobility of effort we are making. A sankalpa can be set at any time, but the New Year is an excellent time. In doing so, we let go of the past and set a positive intention for ourselves. Whatever we want: it may be to be kinder to ourselves or to others, to be strong, to be patient, to be focused.
The idea is that we let go of the past and set a positive intention for our self, something we want. It’s important that we state it in the positive. We allow our mind to go quiet, to let go of that chattering voice within which provides us with an endless and often unhelpful commentary as we move through our day. And we listen within for whatever we feel is right for each of us. If we open our hearts and listen to intuition, we can find that positive intention within us. As I’ve been teaching so far this year, I’ve been inviting those who practise with me to find their own personal intentions.
Setting an intention at the start of the year is a good way to focus. Now is really an excellent time to set an intention to improve our health and wellbeing and to access the benefits that yoga can bring us in all aspects of our lives – physically and energetically, mentally and emotionally and spiritually.
Yoga can offer us a great deal, but, if we just want to start small and see how we feel, that’s absolutely fine. When you realise that your body feels stronger and more open, you have more energy and you’re feeling more resilient in yourself, you’ll be starting to let go of the tension that you carry around in your body and mind. And that can only be good!
There’s a lot of stress around these days, but we’re all different: what may be stressful for me may be a walk in the park for you and vice versa of course. However, most people have some level of stress in their lives that perhaps they’d rather not have, so finding ways to cope better is arguably good for everyone. Yoga is great for helping us learn to relax and to deal differently with stressful situations in ways that suit us better.
To everyone I teach and to all who read this, I send heartfelt wishes for good health and happiness in the year ahead. May you enjoy each day and each moment. If you haven’t already, may 2018 be the year you allow yoga into your life and let me help you find balance and harmony in everyday life.
© Sarah Swan (11 January 2017)