By: Virginia Iversen M.Ed
With the turn of the New Year, many of us may have made resolutions to increase our health and well-being, physically, emotionally or financially. Often, New Year's resolutions have to do with increasing physical health, losing weight or starting a regular exercise program. Many people also set goals to pursue certain life dreams that they may have put on the back burner over the years. In order to truly pursue your goals, you may have to confront the obstacles that have prevented you from successfully pursuing those resolutions in the past.
A "sankalpa" is a Sanskrit word, which means, “ divine intention.” In the process of making a sankalpa, it is important to clarify the goals that you are pursuing, in order to make sure that the goals you have made will uplift both yourself and those around you. If you are a Yoga teacher, you may have made a divinely-inspired resolution to engage more fully in your own your own Yoga practice and to improve your teaching skills, so that you truly offer your service to the world as a Yoga teacher. One of the most profound gifts of a regular Yoga practice is the opportunity to witness the consequences of your decisions on the Yoga mat "in real time."
As your own Yoga practice deepens, you will become acutely aware of the fluctuations of your own mind and the effects of your decisions as you move through each posture. For instance, if you choose to overextend yourself in Triangle Pose, you'll be very aware when you approach your edge in the posture, and when you are moving beyond the ability of your body. If you ignore the signals of your own body in Triangle Pose and push past your edge, you will create discomfort in your body and mind. Learning how to consciously make decisions to practice Yoga in such a way that enhances your own physical and emotional well being, will help you to guide your Yoga students through their own internal conscious decision making process.
As your Yoga students become consciously aware of the consequences of their actions, they will be more able to choose to practice Yoga in such a way that increases their own well-being. This conscious decision making process can be simplified into three steps. The first step is to bring your decisions into conscious awareness, by witnessing the thoughts in your own mind and how you choose to act on those thoughts. As you begin to bring unconscious thought patterns, beliefs and actions into the light, you will be able to consciously choose thoughts and actions that will create happiness for you in the long run.
The second step in this conscious decision making process is to ask yourself what the consequences will be of the decision that you are currently making, and if the decision that you are making will generate happiness for yourself and for those around you in the long run? When we become aware of the consequences of our decisions, we are afforded the opportunity to make decisions that will truly enhance our well-being, so that we can create the life that we truly desire. The third step in this conscious decision making process, is to allow the signals of your body to guide you. As you move in and out of Yoga postures, tune into your body and become aware of the visceral experience of each movement.
For instance, do you feel lighter, more peaceful and expanded after practicing a certain Yoga posture? Or do you feel uncomfortable and a bit anxious? If the latter is the case, you may be moving too deeply into a posture or ignoring what your body truly needs today. By making a more compassionate, aware and sensitive decision in how you practice the next Yoga posture, you will be honing the skills of conscious decision making, which will allow you to pass the same skills on to your students. In this way, both you and your Yoga students can make more conscious decisions, which will ultimately support the fruition of your highest goals.
Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.