Yoga Sankalpa - Why It's Better Than A New Year's Resolution

There is something about the start of a new year, isn’t there? Maybe it’s the space at the end of Christmas that offers us a chance to reflect on where we have been and where we want to head. Maybe it’s the crisp new diary or journal you got from Father Christmas that you can’t wait to use. Or maybe it’s just the desperate need for an excuse not to keep eating Terry’s Chocolate Orange! Either way, this is the time of year when we turn our minds to setting a resolution. But as a yoga teacher and student oover the last 25 years I have found that setting a yoga Sankalpa – a sacred vow or resolve – is a much healthier way to start the year, and here’s why.

Almost all of our resolutions tend to be motivated by the ego and the comparisons we make to other people. Focusing on what we are lacking is demotivating and we are often setting ourselves up for failure. The yoga Sankalpa is a much more healthy way to view things. It teaches us that we already have everything within us that we need to fulfil our highest potential, we just need to focus our minds, connect with our innermost desires and channel our energy to that end. Rather than thinking about all the things we lack, or wish were different, a sacred vow encourages us to reflect on a larger vision for ourselves. One that is reached intuitively, with clarity and out of inspiration. 

This is why I always lead a mind clearing meditation for people before offering them space to reflect on a yoga Sankalpa. It allows us to clear the clutter of the mind a little so that we can tap into our intuition. Leaving the thinking mind out of the equation means that we can begin to ignore that part of ourselves that compares, gets distracted, loses hope – ie the ego – and listen to that other part of ourselves – the central part we call the Higher Self. 

Yoga Sankalpa sacred vow

Your Highest Self

Your Highest Self is the deepest part of us. It’s the part that truly aligns with our heart’s desires and core values. This is the part that is pure love, before we are bridled with life experience. The part that is with us when we come into this world, and with us when we leave. It is wise, it is non-judgmental, it is compassionate and most of all it connects us to everything in the universe. This is the part of us that we should be listening to when we make vows to ourselves because this is the part that knows what is best for us, what matters most. Our Higher Self knows what needs to be confronted so that our path takes us forward to a place of joy. When we think about our Higher Self, we can think about our higher purpose in life and which intentions align with that purpose. 

When you come to create your yoga Sankalpa, you might start with just some abstract ideas, then a few words might come to the surface. Sit with these for a while and don’t necessarily expect to be able to formalise anything straight away. But over time, you might be able to create a short sentence, like an affirmation, that you can come back to time and time again. Make sure your vow really resonates, and make sure to create it in the present tense as if it’s already happening. As if everything you wanted were already true.

I have never been one to make new year’s resolutions. But since discovering the benefits of setting a yoga Sankalpa, it is something I do at the start of every year. I often combine it with making a vision board that I save as wallpaper on my phone. If you are interested in seeing more of what I get up to throughout the year, why not find me over on Instagram 

You can learn lots more about yoga in my Yoga and Wellbeing Blog. Here’s some more reading you might like to do:

What Are The Bandhas In Yoga?

Yoga and Mindfulness

Surya Namaskar – The Origin of the Sum Salutation