New Year’s Resolutions – Yoga Style!


Happy New Year! There is definitely something special about this day isn’t there?

Some people dread New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s kind of exciting to make them. I love thinking about what has gone on over the past year. And I love creating a vision for the year to come.

Maybe the resistance comes because resolutions can be harsh in nature, kind of self-critical. Yoga offers a different and more positive view.


A few years ago, I attended a yoga class on New Year’s Day. My awesome teacher, Sylvie, talked about sankalpa. I had never heard of it before.

Sankalpa is a Sanskrit term that describes an idea that you form in your heart and mind. It is something that you determine to do or go after. It’s like a resolution but more encompassing. It is a framework created from your truest being that supports your intentions and goals.

In that yoga class, I listened for my sankalpa. I knew the year would bring lots of big changes for me. I had just gone back to work after being home with my kids for several years. And my marriage was dissolving. I set my sankalpa; “I am open to courage, strength and compassion.” It became a personal mantra that stayed with me as I moved through these changes.

I love this practice and intend to do it again this year. I am not yet sure what my sankalpa will be. But I will uncover it!

If you would like to find your own sankapla, here are a few ideas to help.

Look Inward

A sankalpa is heartfelt. It can’t be forced. It may take time to find the right one. It is more intuitive than a resolution. This is what gives it power.

Sit comfortably for a minute or two and ask yourself what your intention is for the year. And then listen to what comes up.

Tune into your gut feelings and intuition. Do a few of your favourite yoga poses or try this version of sun salutation to awaken your intuition. Connect to something deep within.

It’s about what you want and also why you want it. The why brings it home.

Choose your Wording

A sankalpa usually consists of a short phrase or a sentence that is clearly expressed and meaningful to you. It may be about a new habit, creating change or improving something in your life. Whatever resonates with you.

Don’t make your sankalpa limiting or fear-based. For example, instead of “I will not make unhealthy choices this year” say, “I am strong and open to making the healthiest decisions for my life.”

Use positive language. Start with “I.” It should feel joyous and make you smile inwardly (maybe even outwardly!)

Be Firm but Kind with Yourself 

A sankalpa creates change like the flow of a river. It comes about naturally. It is both gentle and strong. If you add a rock or take away a log, the water in the river finds a new path. It just goes where it needs to go.

When you add or remove things from your life, its flow changes. A sankalpa helps you decide what should stay or go and it keeps you grounded.

Like a resolution, it still requires will and determination. But it is more encompassing. The feeling behind sankalpa and the effort toward the intention are as important as the final outcome.

If you step off the path once in awhile, don’t get down on yourself. Renew your intention and carry on. It helps to incorporate your sankalpa into your daily routine. This could be in the form of a mantra or affirmation. You could write it on a sticky note or in your phone. Say it to yourself before you go to sleep at night.

Plant the seed of your sankalpa in your conscious mind. Give it love and attention and let it take root in your subconscious. Once that happens you will begin to make choices that naturally align with your deepest and truest intentions.

Wishing you a creative and joyous 2015!

Photo courtesy of Jean Henrique Wichinoski

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