Why not celebrate this New Year by trading in your tired (and probably familiar) resolutions for a Sankalpa instead? A Sanskrit word Sankalpa is a resolve, to make a sankalpa is to set an intention – it’s like a New Year’s resolution with a yogic twist. The idea of repeating a Sankalpa is to create the life we are meant to embrace and enjoy. I wanted to share my own insights and tips to help keep your new Sankalpa going throughout the New Year.
Look Inward & Meditate More:
Mediation calms me on bad days and even more so on good days, it brings the best out of me, makes me wiser, sharpens me mind, it helps me grow and build compassion for myself, others and the world, it energizes me to face the everyday challenges of life which I know can get hard sometimes. Look inward and meditate for yourself and see what can happen for you! The magic of going deep in meditation, being one with yourself, exploring yourself, knowing yourself, can be pure bliss, try it for yourself! Find a quiet place, relax into a still comfortable position, put on some mediating music if you prefer and just listen, feel and breathe…
Just one breath at a time… Practice energetically clearing out unwanted negative energy as you exhale and visualize inhaling clean positive energy. Let your mind be clear and focused, your body still and relaxed, your heart open. Breathing in this conscious way will have an immediate and noticeable effect on your attitude and ease your capability to let go of tensions that arises.
Change Your Perspective & Use Affirmations:
Create a short sentence or phrase for your Sankalpa. Be careful not to set limitations based on fear. For example, “I want only fulfillment and pleasure this year,” consider “I am happy and open to whatever life may offer me.” Changing your mindset is said to be the greatest of all Sankalpas.
Be Loving & Fair:
Change doesn’t happen overnight, so be gentle and remind yourself of your intentions, don’t criticize or berate yourself. But remember if there are things you want to let go of from 2015 or habits you want to shake; remember that you need to be steadfast in your intentions for the New Year. Ensure that your Sankalpa becomes as much a part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth. Use it as a mantra during your yoga practice and in meditation, post a reminder of it on your computer or phone screen, and repeat it to yourself quietly before going to sleep.
A New Year is calling us to clear and cleanse for fresh beginnings. This is a great time to ask yourself: What can I leave behind to blossom in 2016?
Posted under Health and Fitness, Meditation
This post was written by Sylvia on January 11, 2016
It’s been rather windy and a lot more rainy here in Seattle (I think we got used to the great summer we had just few months ago) I still can’t believe that it is already winter! Changes in nature and weather always lead to changes in our bodies so during this time, you might be feeling slow, heavy, and sluggish sometimes and it can feel a bit difficult to shake off.
Here are a few suggestions to create balance and to energize and lighten you up.
- Detox! – A good way to detox your body is to do twisted yoga poses they help wring out your internal organs. Try the Bharadvaja twist – this gentle twist is a tonic for the spine and the abdominal organs. I also like to do a juice cleanse; there are lots of detox programs out there that you can find online. Make it your own for your specific needs and be really mindful of what works for your body and ask yourself if there’s any extra ‘weight’ you’re carrying around that you can shed? Perhaps it’s a way of thinking about what maybe keeps you feeling weighed down. Reflect and take it one step at a time to eliminate unnecessary baggage.
- Practice Yoga – It takes a certain amount of will to practice yoga, finding the balance between will and acceptance in life is what you are learning in your yoga practice that can bring you an endless amount of peace, joy, courage and so much more. I know I feel better if I practice at least fifteen minutes of yoga or meditation a day, so I make it a part of my routine and priority.
- Making space within your body helps Prana (vital energy) move around more freely. You can make space in a number of ways: For the mind try meditating even if it’s only for a few minutes. I also like to create space by free writing in my journal every morning. Just write out whatever you’re thinking about; it’s a good way to release stagnant, repetitive thoughts so you can start your day clear minded. I try to do this throughout my day and most importantly in the morning, it helps create a positive outlook for the day ahead of me. For the body when you feel physically lethargic and heavy, focus on your legs by doing poses like Malasana (Squat), Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (one-legged Pigeon). These poses will help increase circulation and free up your joints.
- Try dry brushing – I have just recently tried this at home and I have experienced wonderful results, this helps release and eliminate waste and toxic build up by stimulating your lymphatic system. It also increases circulation and ladies, it also reduces cellulite!! The key is to start at your feet and brush your skin towards your heart.
- Eat lighter meals – I know, I know, the holidays are right around the corner and a large serving (or two) can be hard to resist but just try to limit yourself on all the sugar and heavy greasy and yummy foods that we know will be around at the dinner table. Digestion is an important part of our health and affects how we feel on so many levels, so it’s important to eat to support our digestion. You want to focus on foods that are easy to digest, light on the stomach, and not too heavy that won’t leave you feeling bloated, light-headed, or in a food-coma.
- Use warm herbs & spices in your dishes – this is especially great during the winter and holiday season. Ones like anise, basil, fennel, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, rosemary & vanilla. Using spices like cayenne and peppers to your meals is a good idea too. This helps turn the heat up in your body and will help burn away excess Kapha – according to Ayurvedic practices. Also spices make food taste even better!
- De-clutter! Letting go of things can be really helpful and quite liberating when you aren’t feeling your best, it’s like spring cleaning! Practice detachment from material possessions, comforts and things that upset you and do a thorough cleaning so you can feel refreshed. I used to have a difficult time getting rid of clothes that I never wore, they just hung in my closet. But learning how to let items go in the physical world makes such a huge difference in my internal world. I promise you, you’ll feel like a new woman/man!
- Is there anything in your life you’re resisting? It’s true when they say whatever you resist persists. Stop resisting and start releasing, which increases energy and creates flow. It’s about creativity and letting new ideas, new passions and new friendships grow. It can be scary if we aren’t used to change but it’s so rewarding if we let things unfold the way they are suppose to. How else would we blossom and get out of this winter funk.
In Conclusion, this season is really about simplifying our lives. Let go of things we no longer need and getting ready to for another season of changes, a better, happier, and healthier you – and in turn of allowing all of this to flow will make space for more love, joy and happiness to rush in.
Posted under Food and Cooking, Health and Fitness, Meditation, Styles of Yoga
This post was written by Sylvia on December 7, 2015
When I began my yoga revival back in June, I committed to a half hour 6 days a week. With the exception of some travel weeks, and extra busy weeks, I’ve stuck to this. I’m now midway through week 19.
My summer asana practices were generally heat inducing sun salutations, with a few standing poses, and a brief sitting meditation. But my daily yoga practice has not evolved into as much time doing asana as I anticipated back in June. Frequently I do not get my practice in before the evening meal, and often wind up sitting for 30 minutes of meditation afterwards – with at least a semi-full belly. This is always challenging, and often rewarding. But I do want more asana. My head maybe tight, but my muscles are tighter.
I realize that the evolution of my yoga practice is as much (or more) about time management than anything else. I find my eating schedule is the biggest challenge, but lately I feel like I’ve overcome this to a large extent, thanks to the practice strap.
When I do a forward bend shortly after eating, I instantly feel discomfort (and indigestion if I continue for long). But if I lie on my back, and lasso my foot with a practice strap, I can get that all-important hamstring stretch without discomfort or indigestion. The strap also facilitates one of the most difficult stretches of all for me – crossed-legged knee to chest pose. My muscles over to the side of my hips (psoas?) are so tight I feel like I need a big hammer and chisel to break through them. Breathing into this stretch ALWAYS causes me discomfort, but afterwards, when sitting cross legged (“Indian style”) I feel so much MORE comfortable. So this stretch has made its way into the daily practice. My asana practice has evolved after all.
I’m hoping my morning laziness will give way to a morning yoga practice. It’s great to get it under your belt early, and can set the tone for a great day. I think some snow this winter might help. Nothing motivates me to get out of bed like skiing, and yoga before skiing is a necessity for me.
But don’t give up on a good, needed stretch just because your belly is not empty. Grab a strap, and whatever other props you need to get comfortable, and breathe into those tight areas. There is no doubt; a little yoga goes a long way.
Posted under Health and Fitness, Meditation, Styles of Yoga, Yoga Supplies
This post was written by David on October 29, 2015