I had a great New Year’s day. I attended a yoga class at a studio that I love with an amazing teacher who always brings cool insights to class and reminds me of why I love yoga. There is always something new to learn and I am humbled by how little I really know.
Instead of opening by wishing us all a happy new year, she instead wished us all the space to create. I thought this was so beautiful and empowering. Imagine a world where we all took that opportunity and made it a priority to create.
The end of the year brings about a mood of reflection. We think about the different things that have occurred over the past year. There are happy moments, sad ones, things that we feel good that we have done and probably a long list of things we meant to accomplish but didn’t.
Yoga is a “come as you are” practice. So rather than starting off the new year thinking or wishing that things had been different, perhaps we would benefit by directing some energy into accepting the way things are and being grateful for the lessons we have learned.
This doesn’t mean that we need to let go of our aspirations or intentions to direct the flow of change.
I learned a Sanskrit term in my New Year’s Day yoga class – sankalpa. It means intention. It is like a resolution but it comes from within. Whereas a resolution implies stopping something (such as – I will lose weight or I will cut down on caffeine), sankalpa is an intention that is formed in the mind or heart and is usually part of a spiritual practice.
We spent the New Year’s day class uncovering our sankalpa. Our instructor, Sylvie, led us through poses and pranayama where we focused on using our intuition to find own sankalpa, our intention for the year to come. For example, during the opening meditation, we took a moment to ask ourselves what our sankalpa was and then focused on listening to the answers that arose.
We did this a number of times throughout the class while holding a pose or practicing a breathing technique and then during savasana. To close the class, Sylvie led us through a meditation. Mentally we repeated the intention to ourselves using our name and being specific; “I Charlotte Bradley am open to courage, strength and compassion.” To seal the intention, we mentally repeated the word “sankalpa” three times.
Deepak Chopra teaches “Sankalpa is the subtlest level of intention at the cusp of choiceless awareness and thought.” When we bring an intention into conscious awareness, we are moving towards the creation or manifestation of that intention.
As we step into 2010, take your next yoga practice to uncover your own sankalpa or internal resolve. And as Sylvie hoped for all of us, I wish you the space to create.