Sankalpa: The Yogic New Year’s Resolution

3 ways to set your intentions for the new year.

Image: Nancy Alder©

During the last week of the year I scramble around to find a cool calendar or two at our local book stores, and I gather up some palo santo, a few citrine crystals and a pad of paper to make a list of my New Year’s sankalpas. A “sankalpa” is an intention that yogis make. A sankalpa is a desire, a resolution and an action we intend to do. When we speak about our sankalpas we use language that is present tense, in other words: “I am…” rather than “I will…” to give it effectiveness.

This last week of 2016 offers a spectacular opportunity to set our sankalpas into motion as there also is a new moon on December 29. New Moons are times when we write or speak about things we wish to come to fruition. There is potency in saying these intentions out loud, or writing them down, and a new moon is a perfect time to do so. Here are three ways to help set your sankalpa in motion for 2017.

  1. Write down your intention: Writing down what you hope to accomplish, a promise you will make or if you like, a resolution, is a way to give it power. Once this sankalpa is out for others to read or hear, you are more likely to make it happen. Find a journal you like, a favorite pen and compose your sankalpa. Make sure it is written in the present tense. For example, “I am writing a book,” instead of “I will write a book.” By stating this intention in the now you experience yourself as that truth rather than as something you might do.
  2. Surround yourself with objects that enhance your manifesting of that sankalpa: Many people chose tokens of good fortune or manifestation to enhance the chances their sankalpas will come true. Crystals such as fluorite and citrine are known to facilitate such manifestations. Special feathers, altars and even using energy clearing smudges such as sage and palo santo can help give your sankalpa a tangibility that makes it more apt to be realized.
  3. Chose wisely and clearly: One mistake we often make when setting intentions is to make them too general or broadly sweeping. It can be difficult to acheive these kinds of sankalpas because they are simply too much. Instead of telling yourself “I am running a marathon.” it might be more realistic to say “ I am running daily.” The daily running may indeed yield a marathon and the goal is just to do that exercise. The success that comes from realistic, specific and managable sankalpas is tangible. By simplifying and specifying we can be more apt to acheive our intentions.

Each time we step on our yoga mat it is a new experience. We come with a different amount of sleep, having eaten different foods, shared different conversations, and our bodies feel different ease and aches. The end of the year and the setting of intentions for the new one to come are not unlike that practice. We reflect upon what we have acheived and what we have not, and we end on the last day of the year a completely changed person from the first one. Sankalpas are a way of infusing our coming year with hope and intention. By setting these wishes and practices into motion we offer ourselves a chance to start our new year like we step on our mat.

Then we breathe in and begin.