From Eating Disorder to Body Love

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Last night I was privileged to speak at a fundraiser for the Butterfly Foundation, an organisation that supports Australian’s experiencing eating disorders, and the topic of the evening was about body image.

I’ve been a professional body worker now for 12 years, and have worked therapeutically with thousands of people through the medium of physical touch, body awareness, movement and connection.

The topic of how we perceive our bodies, our body image, is one that’s been at the heart of my professional exploration for a long time. It’s also been central to my personal growth, struggles and breakthroughs.

What I’ve come to learn over the past decade is that cultivating a positive body relationship is intrinsic to our health.

In fact, let’s leave out the words positive and negative and just say cultivating a relationship with our body is intrinsic to health.

Do you feel connected to your body or disconnected from it? 

When I think about and observe negative body image in myself and others I get a sense of real disconnect from the body.

A lack of seeing the body as something to engage with but instead seeing it as an object that we just happen to be stuck with.

Weight and good looks are always in the forefront of body image issues, but body image is so much bigger than that.

I see negative body image expressed in both women and men in phrases like: too fat, too old, too thin, too stiff, too flexible, too weak, too short ect.

In phrases like, “My shoulder just won’t work.” “My hips always give me problems.” “I”m always getting sick, my body just isn’t that resilient.” “I have terrible skin.” “I’m just too old.”

The comments always are about being too much or not enough or stuck in some pattern.

In this paradigm the value of the body is placed on how it looks and what it can do for us, and our self worth and identity are attached to that.

The yoga system tells us that this approach to our existence leads to suffering, and I can tell you from personal experience that it does.

I grew up doing ballet and dancing since the age of 5 and was very much influenced by the feminine ideal of thin and delicate.

I had the role modelling of older dancers exchanging tips on diet pills, laxatives and it wasn’t uncommon to hear someone purging in the studio toilets.

When I was 16 my body attacked itself. I got an autoimmune disorder that attacked my endocrine system and hormones, I rapidly put on weight, and had to deal with a number of symptoms that left me feeling exhausted and unwell.

I cursed my body for not functioning like it should. I felt ashamed of how my appearance changed and inability to dance like I used to. And I felt lost without my identity as a lithe ballerina.

I spent the next few years trailing hormone therapies that had worse side effects than the actual autoimmune disorder and tried to escape my body, anxiety and misplacement of self worth through eating disorders.

AKA: Suffering! 

When I was 19 I quit Uni and decided to go to massage school in search of something more meaningful. I was on a quest to heal and understand why my body attacked itself and I knew that the high stress environment of achievement was not the path.

This is when I started practicing yoga and I began to learn about a whole new value system.

Identity

I think the greatest lesson Yoga taught me was that that our true identity is the pure light within us. It’s called purusha and can be likened to the word soul. It’s the light in our eyes that connect to the light in other people’s eyes, that knows without saying, that we see illuminated in innocent children.

This is the part of us that does not change. Everything else through life changes, our appearance, our relationships, our work, or health everything else changes, but the light within us stays constant.

The Yoga Sutras tell us that identifying with that which changes leads to suffering. We therefor need to learn to identify with our light, our purusha, that does not change.

The Body Speaks 

Secondly, this system teaches us that our body is not just a machine to do tasks or a mask to live behind, but an expression of a deeper truth and a fascinating and complex sensory organism giving us information about ourselves and the world around us.

It is a microcosm of the macrocosm, a dynamic ecosystem containing the mysteries and laws of the whole universe. The yoga system teaches us that everything we need to know is within us, and we simply need to look inwards and listen.

Rather than just looking at my body, I was slowly learning how to look into my body and listen to it. 

And this is what I mean by developing a relationship with our body.

When we’re connected to our body we learn to dialogue with it, when we’re disconnected from our body we place demands on it.

Breath body practices, especially ones with mindfulness involved, like yoga or chi gong, thai chi teach us how to have a working relationship with our body and then the way we value it begins to change completely.

I see two major disconnects that trigger negative body image:

  1. One is that we think more about how we look than how we feel, and 
  2. Secondly we think more about what our body can do for us rather than what it’s telling us.

Awareness of our body is the gateway into who, what and how we are right now in this present moment. It’s a system full of feedbacks and information telling us exactly what we need.

Look at your body as a book full of information about you and giving you information about the world around you. Your body is not just a car carrying your mind around, but is an expression of a deeper truth, it is a manifestation and expression of our beliefs and ultimately our inner light.

Shift into a more positive body image right now!

  1. Remember your true identity is the light within.
  2. Ask how your body feel, rather than how it looks.
  3. Ask what your body is telling you, rather than what it can do for you. 

What has helped you cultivate a positive relationship with your body? 

Ayurvedic Tips to Get Your Body Summer Ready

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The weather’s warmed up around Sydney and I can feel a real buzz in the air with the anticipation of summer just around the corner. But while our mind’s might be ready for fun in the sun, but how about our bodies?

I’m seeing a lot of students lately sniffling their way through class, complain about throat tickles, feeling a little low energy and worrying about dawning the bikinis again.

Spring is the sticky season according to Ayurveda. Our body’s often have an excess of mucus from winter stagnation and we want to use this time of year to shake that off, clear our channels and get things moving again.

This is the season dominated by the elements water and earth, called Kapha, and after the winter months of slower metabolism and movement many of our digestive, breath, immune and energetic channels can be clogged up with accumulated toxins.

Basically, we’ve got a bit of the winter sweater hanging on still and Spring time is the perfect time to shed it by cleansing the body. So I’ve come up with a list of yogic and Ayurvedic recommendation for how to do that.

  1. Up your exercise

Spring time is the best time for vigorous exercise because the weather is not yet too hot and our body has extra stored fuel from the winter insulation we often put on.

Being that is Kapha season also means we’re most connected to the dense physical earth and water elements and naturally gravitate toward being more aware of our bodies. Try those hand stands, forearm balance or challenging physical things you’ve always wanted to do. When we have greater cohesion of Kapha energy we’re less likely to get injured.

  1. Eat more pungent, bitter and astringent foods

In Ayurveda all food falls under one of six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent.

Sweet, sour and salty are considered building tastes, meaning when we eat them they build mass. Pungent, bitter and astringent are considered reducing tastes, meaning when we eat them they reduce mass.

We want to reduce mass and shed the winter sweater, burn through accumulated fat which holds toxins and lighten our physical being to find balance.

Pungent includes anything spicy, onions, garlic, chills, ginger ect.

Bitter includes bitter greens, turmeric, dandelion root, herbs ect.

Astringent includes things like grapefruit, legume, raw veggies ect.

  1. Drink spicy lemonadeUnknown

Hot or cold this a great drink to have in the spring time to stoke the digestive fire and bring lightness into the system. Simply mix juice of half a lemon, slice of fresh ginger, pinch of cayenne pepper and teaspoon of maple syrup or coconut syrup.

This is a great thing so sim warm in the morning or evening, and cool throughout the day. It also curbs appetite and can helps us snack less through the day.

  1. Relieve allergies and sinus with neti pot

For years I dreaded spring time because my sinus were so sensitive to the the pollens and flower fragrances newly bursting forth. But that sinus pain has nearly vanished since I started a regular practice of flushing my sinuses using a neti pot (one of the traditional yogic cleansing practice). Ask at any health food store or chemist and you’re likely to find one with instructions.

  1. Eat more greens

Eat all the fresh greens you can! Nature is always guiding us into balance. In the Autumn when we want to put on a bit of weigh for winter it provides us with a harvest of nuts and root veggies, in the spring when we want to lighten our system for summer it provides us with a harvest of leafy greens.

Try to bring greens into every meal this time of year. Play with spinach in your green smoothie for breakfast, big salads at lunch and steamed greens for dinner.

  1. Sprout at home 

Along the same lines as above, we always want to fallow the wisdom of nature. Right now everything is Unknown-1sprouting, and sprouts are an amazing super food. Sprouts have more protein per pound than lean meat and far more absorbable and diverse nutrients.

It’s so easy to sprout at home there’s no reason not to do it! Simply get a packet of alfalfa seeds, put a scoop full in a jar, place a cheese cloth over the mouth of the jar and hold in place with a rubber band, rinse the seeds with water and drain in the morning and evening. In a few days you’ll have a jar full of fresh sprouts, voila!

  1. Fire up your breath with pranayama

Keeping the breath channels open and cleanse is really important. Our body pushes unwanted waste out of us via the mucus channels of our body, and one of the main ways we see this in the Spring is through a snotty nose.

Get a box of tissues ready and practice Kapalabhati and Bhastrika pranayama. Check out this article by Yoga International to learn more. 

  1. Spring clean your space

Finally, we feel energetically clear and light when the environment around us is also clear and light. Spring cleaning our home and space helps the energy around us flow better, and when this happens the energy within us also flows better.

Why Smashing My Head Made Me So Happy

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I’ve been on a bizarre happiness high since last Saturday when I had a frighteningly close call on a motor bike in Bali that landed me in hospital getting stitches above my right eye. 

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yep, she’s definitely had a head injury. Who’d be happy about that?!” And yes, while I probably have suffered some concussion symptoms, I’ve realised there’s much more behind my happiness than getting knocked in the head.

But, before I go into that, a quick rant: Firstly, I was wearing a helmet, probably wouldn’t be writing this if I wasn’t. Secondly, Anybody who doesn’t wear a helmet on a motorbike in Bali or anywhere else is an idiot! Ok, that off my chest, back to why I’ve been so happy after takin’ a lickin’ as one of my good friends called it.

I could easily bemoan the new scar on my face (and elbows and knees), ironically just a week before standing as a bridesmaid for one of my best friends (sorry Johanna!), but the truth is I’ve simply been ecstatic with gratitude for being alive!

I keep thinking about how close I came to serious (potentially fatal) injury and each time I flash back to the possible worse case scenario I’m filled with so much gratitude I can actually feel it in my throat.

I really noticed this the first day or two and thought it was simply the effects of adrenaline and shock, but it’s been a week now and the strange thing is that these feelings of gratitude and joy are just getting stronger.

The thing about having a nice shiner is that you can’t hide it. Which means EVERYONE wants to know what happened. Which means I have to talk to EVERYONE about what happened, from students to friends to store clerks and strangers in the coffee shop.

It dawned on me today that each time I tell my story I also tell people how grateful I am for getting out of it alive and well, for the friends that helped me (thanks Nadine and Brenton) and for a million other little things that seem to be growing by the day.

And then I realised, this is actually why I’m on such a happiness high. I’m naming and feeling thankful for things far more than I usually do.

So, I decided to do a little research on gratitude. 

And, I came upon some great studies done by Dr. Robert A. Emmons who in his new book ‘thanks!’ shows how having a gratitude practice can increase our happiness by 25 percent.

Emmons tested three groups over ten weeks, one that wrote down regularly five things they were grateful for, one that listed five things that hassled them and the third five neutral events that happened in the day.

Not only was the gratitude group happier by 25%— but they were more optimistic about the future, they felt better about their lives and they even did almost 1.5 hours more exercise a week than those in the hassles or events groups.

Emmons did the same test over 21 days with a group of adults with neuromuscular disorders from the polio virus that causes serious debilitation. In other words, people who could easily be spiteful about the card life dealt them.

Participants in the gratitude condition were found to be more satisfied with their lives, more optimistic about the upcoming week and crucially, were sleeping better. Good sleep not only is an indicator of wellbeing but also leads to greater wellbeing, health and happiness.

I want to stay on this happiness high. 

Emmons suggests that a simple regular gratitude practice can keep us all feeling happier and sustaining that happiness. His research shows that spending only 2 minutes a week of naming the things you’re grateful for is all you need to do to feel happier about life.

In my classes this week we’ve been dedicating ourselves to acknowledging the things and people we’re grateful for, especially the one’s we easily take for granted.

To ingrain this lesson into my psyche and develop it into a habit I’ve decided to start a 21 Days of Gratitude Instagram Challenge, and I hope you’ll join me!!

Either respond to my posts and share what you’re grateful for or start your own 21 Days of Gratitude with #21daysofgratitude and #whatareyougratefulfor?

Let’s start a wave of gratitude and happiness and keep it going by making it a habit!

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How I went from fast food junky to yoga lifestyle freak

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I’ve been hard on myself this week about not eating the way that makes me feel best, which is clean, fresh, non-processed food and in moderation. But I also know that beating myself up about eating is just as unhealthy as any unhealthy food. So, to get out of this headspace I did one of the exercises I do with my students in the Yoga Detoxes and 30 Day Yoga Evolution. This exercise gets us to look at where we’ve been, what’s shifted and appreciate that growth happens on a trajectory, not over night.

And wow, there have been some massive shifts in how I live my life! In the past year alone I’ve refined my lifestyle so much. But I looked further back and watched the unfolding of my journey with health until I came to an image of myself as a teenager, over weight, eating fast food alone in my car, feeling depressed and knowing deep in my bones that the American dream was more like a nightmare.

Take a snap shot back in my life. I am 17, a sophomore in high school, have just been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that is totally screwing with my hormones. I don’t yet realize this is part of why I feel lethargic, anxious, depressed and have suddenly gone from being a lithe ballerina to gaining 20 lbs in less than a year. Emotionally overwhelmed by it all and crushed to see my body out growing my leotards, I quit dancing. Something I’ve been doing since I was five. Something that always made me feel free and light and express whatever I was feeling without having to say it.

So here I am, suddenly not moving my body as I was used to, not expressing my emotions through movement, all the while trying to cope with the typical teenage shit.

At the same time a big shift in public school funding swept the nation. As government spending on public education plummeted and the schools become more desperate, big cooperations like CocaCola and Pepsi saw an opportunity: sponsor entire schools.

My school ended up with a Pepsi sponsorship, which meant they received money in exchange for plastering every notice board, sports complex and school banner with Pepsi logos. It also meant that our school cafeteria was now operated by Pepsi and their affiliates (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut etc.) and school lunch turned into fast food.

We could eat off campus, which most of us did frequently, but where did we go? To any one of the ten fast food joints within three blocks of our high school of course. God bless America.

Not only where Pepsi logo’s strew through our school, but we were lucky enough to have soda dispensers in EVERY corridor. The coins left over from lunch were enough to get an afternoon caffein and sugar kick to pull us out of the greasy fast food lunch stupor. Which of course wore off by the time we got home and were meant to do our homework, so we cracked another can of high fructose corn syrup and buzzed the night away, finishing assignments or watching MTV until 2am and then having a hellish time getting up the next morning.

This was the typical American teenage pattern, and sadly, still is. In the US adolescent obesity has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years and reports of teenage anxiety and depression have doubled. Australian statistics aren’t far behind.

I was slotting in quite well with these statistics, and nobody seemed to say, “Hey, this isn’t normal! You don’t have to wake up every morning anxious or depressed. All that high fructose corn syrup is making you gain weight and have mood swings. Go back to moving your body and eating simple foods that your mom made!”

I consumed enough Good Times Burgers in those few years to last me a lifetime (if not more). We all did, and the sad truth is that many of my peers still do. This is how our schools and culture taught us to nourish ourselves, and many of us have grown from being overly caffeinated poorly nourished teens to overly caffeinated poorly nourished adults. But now, as adults the repercussions are starting to show.

My autoimmune disorder only exacerbated the problem, and in many ways I’m grateful because it made me realize something was indeed wrong and investigate early on in my life what that was. I wanted to know why my body was attacking itself. Was it something I was doing, or thinking or feeling? Was it something I was eating or experiencing? Was it my society? Was it in the water or in the air?

I wanted to understand what was going on, and as I asked these questions I began to see the answer was ‘yes’ to all of them. 

In my first year of Uni I learned more about environmental degradation. My ears perked hearing about the levels of hormones and antibiotics fed to dairy cows and studies linking these  livestock practices to endocrine disorders. I stopped eating meat and fast food, started dancing again and low and behold began feeling a little better. I was still eating too much processed food, drinking too much and way too stressed out trying to over achieve with studies, work and writing for the school paper.

I knew the issue was more than just food and environmental contamination. I couldn’t clearly articulate it then but after my first year of Uni I knew I was simply learning how to perpetuate the cycle of the “rat race.” So I quit and went off to New Mexico to get a diploma in Massage Therapy.

At 19 years old the world of yoga, energy healing and body-mind psychology blew me open into a whole new exploration of what leads to health and disease, and how all aspects of our lives influence our state of health and wellbeing. I learned so much about body, mind, spirit health at that time and it propelled me into a lifelong exploration of this topic.

It’s been 13 years since and I’ve made hug changes in how I live, eat, move and think, but it didn’t happen over night. It’s been a process of small and continuous shifting that’s got me back to feeling like I did before my body attacked itself. Yoga has taught me how to look within, and sit with the injured, ugly or dead side of myself and culture, breath through the discomfort of looking at it and listen to the inner guidance on how to heal. And damn, it’s not always easy, but each time I come out the other end I know it’s worth it.

I can tell you that learning is one thing but actually applying it to life is another. I’ve been through so many highs and lows with personal health, two steps forward and one step back, but when I look at the big picture every year I get healthier and happier. And this is why I love the yoga lifestyle. This is how life should be and I thank my lucky stars for having people in my life who finally did say, “Hey, don’t believe what they say about getting older. You don’t have to wake up feeling like shit and get fat. You can feel happy and at peace. You can improve your health every year, life only get’s better if you simply do the work on yourself.”

 

 

Stress Reduction, a Simple Equation

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by Morgan Webert

In the past week my meditation teacher dropped a number of lovely gems into my bag of memorable quotes, a number of which all relate and brought some simplicity and clarity to my understanding of stress.

First he said, “Stress is when a demand for change or adaptation is put upon us and we don’t have the energy to meet that demand for change or adaptation.”

In other words, we get stressed out when our energy levels are low because we just don’t have it in us to deal with the demands being asked of us. When we have sufficient energy the same demands very easily could be fun and exciting, or at least not stressful.

He then went to define, “Suffering is when we put energy into resisting a change that needs to be made.”

I’m beginning to see a cycle!

Putting our energy into resisting a change that needs to be made depletes our energy reserves, and less energy means that demand for change becomes even more stressful, leading to more resistance and more suffering.

So how do we get out of this cycle? If the change can’t be avoided then the only thing to do is put more energy into the system.

We do this intuitively, but sometimes not always sustainably. We grab a cup of coffee or afternoon sweet treat to get an energy hit to deal with the demands of the day (and when I say we I mean it, I’m no stranger to this habit). But, the sugar and caffeine buzz wears off quickly, often leading to poor sleep and is physiologically taxing on the body, ultimately depleting our energy reserves more and creating more stress.

And this my friends is where yoga comes in! Yoga is all about capitalizing on our natural energy, our Prana. In fact, most mind body breath practices do. This is why we feel less stressed after a beautiful yoga session or meditation, it fills up our cup of internal energy in a natural, sustainable way. Have you ever felt stressed about something, gone to a yoga class, and afterwards thought, “What was I worrying about, I know exactly what to do now.”

So how does yoga refill our energy reserves?

1. Deep Breathing.

The name for breathing practices in yoga is pranayama. Prana refers to life force energy and is synonymous with breath. Yoga teaches us to open our breath channels and in doing so oxygenate our brain and body and draw in lifeforce. When we breath deeply throughout the day we think clearly and feel alert. When our breath is restricted so is our energy. Try this practice, it will only take one minute, no excuses not to do it! Close your eyes, take 30 very deep breaths (Billows Breaths, or Bastrika in Sankrit) and then sit with your eyes closed for the following 30 seconds and feel the effects of oxygenating your system. Better than a shot of espresso. Try it now! Do it often!

2. Conscious Relaxation and Meditation.

Many studies have shown that mediation and conscious relaxation can be more restorative to our body than sleep. If we watch a child or partner fall asleep we’ll notice their breath become very soft, the body very still and heart rate really low, but then when they fully fall asleep the breath rate increases, the body twitches slightly and the heart rate lifts again. This is an evolutionary defense mechanism. When the mind checks out to the unconscious state of sleep the body metabolism increases so that we can physically respond quickly to any potential danger. When we practice conscious relaxation and meditation the mind is alert to any potential dangers so the body is sent signals that it’s safe to deeply relax and release. This is also why energy work like Reiki or a massage can be so rejuvenating.

3. Movement and Rest Pulsation.

While an hour of meditation and conscious relaxation can be more restorative than an hour of sleep, nothing fills the cup of energy like a proper nights sleep. But, so many people in our culture struggle with sleeping, deprive themselves of it or simply don’t get quality sleep. New parents aside, this often has to do with either having too many stimulants in the system (as mentioned above) or having too much physical stagnation. Good exercise and good movement leads to good sound rest, whereas stagnation in the system and sitting all day leaves us physiologically restless.

4. Eating energy filled foods.

Finally, we all know we are what we eat, and yogi’s focus on eating sattvic foods. That means fresh, wholesome, nourishing foods that will make us feel light, energetic and clean. Anything that is too heavy requires a lot of energy to digest and therefor depletes the system even more. Anything too stimulating and spice can cause us to burn up our energy reserves faster than we can refill them. Sattvic food keeps us balances and full of energy.

Share with us how you bring these yogi practices into your daily life to refill your energy cup?

How to Eat Like a Yogi in the Modern World Part 2: Food and the Mind

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by Morgan Webert

How does food effect our mind?

Since the mind and body are intrinsically connected, it follows that what we feed our body also feeds our mind, and the effects of a certain food on the body will similarly effect the mind.

In yoga we categorize the effect of all things–actions, words, asanas, experiences and food–into three qualities called the gunas.  The three qualities are sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. 

Satvic includes all things clean, clear, light, fresh, calm and stable. Rajasic applies to all things fiery, hot, sharp, fast, and stimulating. Tamasic refers to all things slow, dull, heavy, dense and lifeless.

The quality of the food we eat effects the quality of our mind. Satvic foods make us feel clear and light, while rajasic food stimulates us and tamasic food weighs us down.

Rather than categorizing these qualities into good and bad, we want to be discerning about what we eat with an understanding of how it will effect us. We want to find a balance between satvic and rajasic foods, as stimulation is important for digestion and life, and generally limit tamasic food.

Satvic foods are fresh, pure and vibrant, easy to digest and produce harmony in the mind.

Examples of Satvic Foods:

  • Most fresh fruits, vegetables, and freshly-prepared grains
  • Many types of beans, including black, mung, soy and fava
  • Lentils
  • Fresh yogurt
  • Ghee
  • Honey
  • Sesame, sunflower and coconut oil
  • Cashews, almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts

Rajasic foods are stimulating and naturally comprised of salty, sour, bitter and pungent tastes and should be used in moderation.

Examples of Rajasic Foods: 

  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Lemons and lime
  • Kidney beans
  • Red lentils
  • Garlic
  • Peanuts
  • Pickles
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Onions
  • Sour cream
  • Vinegar
  • Hot spices
  • Salt
  • White sugar (short term effect)
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol (in small amounts)

Tamasic foods are dull and lifeless, usually artificially processed, require large amounts of energy to digest, suppress agni (digestive fire) and lead to formation of ama (toxicity) and heaviness. 

Examples of Tamasic Foods:

  • Leftovers
  • Stale food
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Meat
  • Margarine
  • Icecream
  • Frozen foods
  • Microwaves foods
  • Overcooked foods
  • White sugar (long term effect)
  • White flour
  • Alcohol (in large amounts)
  • Cheese

Resources: “Eat, Taste, Heal”, Dr. Yarema

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How to set a Yogic New Years Resolution from the Heart

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by Morgan Webert

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with New Years Resolutions.

On the one hand, I love resolutions because I’m dedicated to personal growth and feel inspired by evolving into a happier healthier person.  On the other hand, I’ve also felt these resolutions can lead to self depreciation and feeling less than, emphasizing what’s lacking and the destructive mentality of always wanting more.

This was the dark side of setting resolutions I saw each year. I intuitively felt it was the reason so many people didn’t stick to their resolves longer than a few weeks and saw how it then created more self depreciation when the resolve was broken.

So, when along my yoga path I learned the practice of sankalpa, intention setting from the heart that aligns to your life purpose, I began to learn how to set goals without a dark side and they’ve genuinely transformed my life.

Rod Stryker, founder of ParaYoga, says, “By definition, a sankalpa should honor the deeper meaning of our life. A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma–our overriding purpose for being here.”

This sankalpa statement becomes something you can call on again and again, reminding you of your true nature and guiding your decisions.

Here is a quick guide to help you set a Sankalpa from your heart for the New Year.

1. Know that you already are who you need to be to fulfill your life’s purpose.

You are good enough! Yoga philosophy recognizes that we each have a shinning light of divine power and wisdom within us, called our purusa, and most of our yoga practices simply work to get rid of anything covering that light. Unlike typical New Years resolutions that are based around a need to change, a sankalpa reinforces the amazingness you already have – your true nature.

2. Listen to your heart-felt desires.

Let your vision of yourself and the world be big, and think about who and how you want to be in that vision. Start writing down qualities of that vision and observe how your heart space feels as you write them down. Some will deeply resonate with you, circle those.

3. Create a broad positive statement that encompasses your true nature and heart-felt desires in the present tense.

Looking at the qualities from above as well as some of the intentions you’ve already set, can you find an underlying desire that unifies them all?  Now make that an ‘I am’ statement in the present tense. For example, “I am clear, healthy and peaceful.” Don’t worry too much about the wording, this statement will likely change over time, but fine a simple clear statement to start with that really feels good when you say it. This statement will anchor you in your true light, your purusa, and guide you through specific intentions and decisions. 

4. Get specific in a way that aligns with your broad sankalpa.

Now, from this space of deep connection to your true nature, pick a few specific actions that are going to reinforce this. Stay in the present tense, this psychologically strengthens your intention.  For example, “I am clear, healthy and peaceful, I eat foods that make me feel clear and I am patient with my family.” You’ll find that ego driven intentions won’t sound right next to the heart-felt sankalpa, and those are usually the ones we don’t stick to.

5. Write down your positive, beautiful, inspiring sankalpa and post it somewhere you’ll see it every day! 

Please share you’re intention with us if you’d like, or what you got out of this exercise, and as a community we can reinforce these heart felt New Years Resolutions.

Happy New Year!!