Underneath the joyful shouts of “Happy New Year!” most people also make a quiet resolution to make the coming year better than the last. Appropriately, in this article, we’ll discuss the power of resolutions, or Sankalpa (Sanskrit for intention), and how they can affect your life, your practice, your yoga business
, your students, everything. Resolutions help us focus the manifesting power we have all been graced with. If you’re skeptical about this subject, especially at this time of year — take a deep breath and read on.
Some people get really annoyed and say, “I just don’t believe in making New Year’s Resolutions!” Touché. They’re right — every day of the year should be a day of resolution to live the life we want, not just January 1. But usually, those who don’t believe in making resolutions simply believe that they don’t work. Resolutions do indeed work. I’ve seen miracles happen in many people’s lives through their firm commitment to a resolution. You just need to know how to work with them.
What was the most important word in that last paragraph? Yes, commitment. It’s easy to be excited during a motivational seminar, or for that matter, at the beginning of a year, when starting something new or rededicating to something important seems natural and everyone else is doing it. But how many times have we made a resolution that a short time later has lost its prominence in our daily lives?
We’ve all muttered or whined to ourselves something like: “But I don’t feel like going to yoga; or marketing my yoga business; or going for a run; or writing my newsletter; or eating my vegetables…” even though we know we’ll feel better having done so. When we succumb to the whining, commitment and accountability are the issues.
“Commitment is doing the thing you said you would do, long after the feeling with which you initially said it, is gone.” For years I’ve used this definition both to inspire myself and my clients. Even after setting a firm commitment, the biggest challenge to the realization of a resolution is that most people are not accountable to anyone but themselves when they make or break it.
One of the most important aspects of my work with clients is creating effective resolutions and then clarifying the commitment, planning the actions and holding them accountable (with permission) to the achievement of their goals. In essence, never letting them get away with accepting less than what they deserve from life.
The key to success with resolutions is in keeping every goal realistic, in perspective and infused with meaning. Ultimately, if the goal is really meaningful to you, it won’t be a “sacrifice” to pursue it. It becomes a beautiful journey, not just a far-off destination. However, even with meaningful resolutions, challenges can surface when you try to establish too many habits at once. Too much change too soon can be overwhelming, possibly causing you to revert to old, familiar behavior that hasn’t served your growth.
It’s especially important to keep resolutions positive. Otherwise, they can be set-ups for self-recrimination — looking mostly to undo “bad” behavior from the past instead of reinforcing and celebrating positive behavior in the present.
So let’s start with you. Here’s how to make sankalpa a powerful tool
for growth and change in your life and business: Vague goals produce vague results — So first, clarify exactly what you want to accomplish and write it down in detail (always leaving room in your consciousness for receiving even more than you’re asking for). Next, find a mentor or coach with whom you can share your resolution. (Choose this person very carefully! Putting a good friend in this position may strain the relationship.) Then, create a plan that holds you accountable to the step-by-step fulfillment of this goal over a specified time frame. (“Doing the thing you said you would do…”) And finally, give your mentor or coach signed, written permission to not let you veer from the path, even if you beg (“…long after the feeling with which you initially said it, is gone”).
Once you’re solidly on your way to fulfillment of your own resolutions, you’ll be able to help others. By helping your students — especially those new to yoga — stay focused and committed to their practice, you’ll be doing exactly what your business is meant to do: change lives for the better and provide a good living for yourself in return.
When thinking of how to help your students, let’s remember how we felt when we were first starting out on our yoga journey. See if any of this sounds familiar.
Some students suffer a loss of interest and enthusiasm after a few months of practice. They might lose interest because initially the mental and physical benefits are very easily noticeable, but after practicing for some time, the benefits become more subtle, sometimes making students judgmental about their practice. When they have a good practice, they feel great; when they have a challenging practice, they don’t feel so great.
A well-crafted resolution looks to reinforce the simple fact that they practiced at all — celebrating, not judging the practice. It’s the same in business, or any other aspect of life: the intention toward the goal is what holds the magic.
One of the most important aspects for success is to eliminate guilt as a motivating factor. A troublesome resolution sounds like “I commit to doing yoga every day”. “Every day” and other blanket statements are simply unrealistic and not sustainable for everyone. With that as a goal, guilt and disappointment about missing even one day can make people lose the fire of their commitment and sometimes quit altogether because they feel they already have “failed”. A new student’s psychology is a delicate matter. Even an imperfect effort should be cause for celebration. Life is too short for anything else.
Since most people are not accountable to anyone but themselves when they make or break a resolution, your students need help staying on track. Since there’s rarely anyone else in their lives they can count on to fill this role, you and your studio can be your students’ non-judgmental, supportive and encouraging Point of Accountability.
Ask them to consider a sankalpa to practice yoga all day long by doing a forward bend while brushing their hair; Lion Pose while at a stoplight (which is great fun scaring children in the car ahead of you); Tree Pose while on the phone; deep squatting while peeling vegetables … you get the idea. Show them how to make yoga a bigger part of their lives. Do it in writing, verbally and by serving as an example yourself.
Encourage them to come “home” to your yoga studio more often to make this habit a reality. Get creative. Start a Sankalpa Club where students can support each other; take pictures and gather testimonials from inspiring yogis; write up case studies highlighting a “student of the month” who has made and is meeting their commitment. Hang these stories up on your walls and e-mail them to your entire community in a monthly newsletter. Document everything positive and share it publicly. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate your students and be a center for change in their lives.
This will make your yoga studio the place of sanctuary and supportive community that is missing for most people. Current student attendance will naturally increase, and new students will show up by word of mouth — drawn in by happy, supported, empowered yogis who speak glowingly about the meaningful benefits they receive at your studio. It’s all about your students, it always has been. Treat them as you would your own children, help them grow and watch your prosperity grow in return.
Go on, set your sankalpa. Create your life of abundance. It’s your birthright, and there’s no better time than now.