Diving into the New Year with "sankalpa"

Wednesday 3 January, 2007

beachI've never been one for New Year's resolutions. Surely January, with its short, grey days and post-festive flatness, is a time of hibernation and retreat, when promises made in good spirit are easily broken? But this year, I'm hoping to gain strength from the Sanskrit word, sankalpa - meaning determination - to help me bounce into the New Year, yogic guns a-blazing.


A sankalpa has been described as a New Year resolution with a yogic twist: an intention that explores what's behind the thought, and recognises the value of making the effort in the first place.

All too often (with me, anyway), it's easy to berate ourselves for setting goals and not keeping them - an unhelpful spiral that does the opposite of boosting self-esteem.

As far as I understand it (and I absolutely stand corrected!), a sankalpa aims to replace the destructiveness of dwelling on past transgressions with a focus on intention, surrender and openness to whatever life will bring this year.

So how to turn around a set of destined-to-fail New Year's resolutions so that they work for you?

Perhaps a good tool is to imagine what you would like to achieve this year, and how you would like to feel, and work backwards to achieve this. How will your resolutions best be realised? What frame of mind is needed to bring you where you want to be?

Patience is a virtue, it's said, and one that I often lack. It's important to remind yourself that change won't happen overnight.

One of my main resolutions this year is to establish a daily yoga and meditation routine. A sankalpa (as a mantra, perhaps) added to the mix can cement resolve so that it becomes embedded in your thoughts, and therefore your actions.

Writing a journal of thoughts, feelings and aspirations is another way to crystallize thoughts and intentions, and use them as a marker to move forward.

Have you made any New Year's resolutions? How do you intend to keep them? I'd love to hear; please leave a comment below.

Whatever techniques you use, I hope you a happy, healthy and focused New Year!


Lucia Cockcroft, editor



That's so funny and

That's so funny and coincidental! At the yoga studio where I work, that was our focus for this week. Not to make resolutions which are so easily broken and then you feel guilty, but to think what is behind the idea and that's generally something you just work on and can't really fail. Your intention. Mine was to develop compassion towards all. (Ordinarily, if I was going to make a resolution - which I'm not prone to doing - I would say something like, "I'll practice Metta meditation every day instead of my current 2 or 3 times a week.") And, of course, that would be easy to fail cause I wouldn't want to give up my "regular" meditation practice and then I'd probably have time problems. But this way, I'm less likely to think of it as "on the mat" meditation and practice in traffic, waiting in lines, etc.

Namaste, Susi

Thanks for your comment,

Thanks for your comment, Susi. I definitey suspect that the way forward with New Year's resolutions is to be totally realistic in how achievable they are. We'll see how they go!


Editor - Yoga-abode

Asana of the Month

Yoga Travel

Writer and yoga teacher Sarah Dawson re-discovers contentment at Portugese retreat centre, Vale de Moses.


Mindfulneses author & coach Shamash Alidina explains the importance of switching from 'doing' to 'being'.