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Happy New Year Yogi

January 10, 2016 | 3 min read
Happy New Year Yogi

‘I believe in living life the way that you want to live it every day, and if you do that, you don’t really need New Year’s resolutions’.  Tom Ford

January is the month when most of us will be making New Year resolutions. This popular western tradition actually dates back to ancient Rome. The first month of each year, was a time when Romans made promises to re-pay debts and resolve old quarrels. Twenty-one centuries later, nearly half of all Americans have similar goals for 2016.

According to, this year’s resolutions include spending less money, but more time with family and reading more books. Top of the list however, is getting fit and healthy. That should mean good news for Yoga teachers and yogapreneurs. Unfortunately, nearly half of all New Year’s resolutions will never be achieved.

Motivation to succeed in our goals is highest in the first week of January. As result most gyms and studios report January to be a peak time for new memberships and class attendance. To kick start the process, many studio and business owners will offer sales or discounts. Though this strategy has potential for short term gains, immediately boosting sales, the long term gains are debateable. research says that is because commitment to completing resolutions dwindles steadily downward from week’s three to six. By the end of the month most people have entirely given up on reaching their goals. For teachers and studio owners that means back to start position and repeat.  To break the cycle, an alternative approach is needed.

Sankalpa is a form of suggestion-therapy most often used in yoga nidra. The sankalpa is an inspired affirmation that helps to focus the mind and energies on achieving heart-felt desires rather than ‘waging battle’ with them.  For example, instead of making a resolution to lose weight, a sankalpa affirms a desire to ‘awaken a strength’, ‘express positivity’, ‘find balance and harmony in all areas of my life’.

The idea is to offer self-healing rather than self-criticism. The problem with resolutions is their reliance on external forces such as challenges and competitions – to create motivation. A 14-day yoga challenge may seem like a good idea – but it is yours, not the clients’ desire motivating the encounter. Even good intention resolutions such as ‘this year I will give up alcohol, chocolate, tobacco’, often fail, because they are focused on the negative, taking away rather than giving positive energy.

Sankalpas’ are practiced ‘as if’ the student has almost achieved them.  This is because sankalpa affirms what the individual already believes.  So this year, instead of offering a 14 day challenge or discount, support your students’ belief in the positive benefits of yoga, with a monthly affirmation, mantra or event that strengthens rather than weakens their resolve.

Posted in Opinion, Teaching Tips

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