In the tradition of our culture’s “new year’s resolution” I like to practice yoga nidra at this time of year to help establish a new sankalpa or intention. A sankalpa is different from a new year’s resolution. It is short, affirming, and is both in the present and forward-looking.
Usually it takes a couple of weeks for me to be certain of what sankalpa is right for me to work with for a period of months. One year, I had been very sick for the entire fall and early winter, so it was easy to choose “I am healthy.” For the past two years, as I struggled with my place this time of war and societal struggle and thought about my own role in creating and avoiding conflict, I chose the sankalpa “I will come from the light in all I do” (“light” for me meaning an inner place of peace, compassion and spaciousness).
In the past several months, mostly due to having thoroughly enjoyed creating meals from the garden and the farmers’ market, I am a little heavier than works with the clothing I own and my sense of comfort with my body image. Instead of having a new year’s resolution to lose five pounds, which would likely fail, I am working with the sankalpa “I love and respect my body.” The former buys into societal expectations of what my body should look like, imposes mental will over my body, and reinforces a mindset of negative judgment and denial. The latter is joyous and affirming. I believe that if I truly love and respect my body, I will eat in a way that is healthy for my body and the earth. I will either lose the few pounds or be more accepting of my body as it is. This sankalpa thus gives me much to contemplate in terms of my relationship to the mirror, my clothes, my asana practice, and my way of eating. How much it gives me to contemplate expands if I think of the body extending beyond just my flesh and bones and physical appearance, but also to my energy body and all that I bring in through the senses.
What sankalpa would be transformative for you this year? What would help you embody your sankalpa (other than, of course, establishing a regular yoga nidra practice — see yoga nidra resources).