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Forward into 2016
27 December 2015

Forward into 2016
27 December 2015

Forward into 2016

I'm pretty sure I'm circulating the same thoughts about New Year's resolutions that I did last year. At first glance, a resolution is a worthy endeavor. But it makes this sneaky transformation into something that smacks of self loathing. a kind of: "do THIS because you're THAT" (I'm sure you can fill in this madlibs-like formula with your own choice words and phrases). And that subtext of discontent seems to be at clear odds with yoga's concept of santosha, or deep contentment and acceptance with what is.

Almost every New Year’s resolution starts with the words: “I will.” We summon willpower and vow to change not just what we do but who we are. We set goals and imagine how happy we will be when we get what we want.

New Year's resolutions as we understand them almost always fail because they start from the assumption that who you are is not good enough, and reinforce the mistaken belief that your happiness depends on making yourself different or acquiring something you want.

The yogic practice of sankalpa, or resolve, is a kinder alternative to the tired battles of failed self-improvement that resolutions prompt in us and it is inclusive of the concept of santosha. A sankalpa practice starts from the premise that you already are who you need to be to fulfill your life’s dharma. All you need to do is focus your mind, connect to your most heartfelt desires, and channel the energy within.

Sankalpa is a vow and commitment we make to support our highest truth. Rod Stryker 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.” The sankalpa becomes a statement you can call upon to remind you of your true nature and guide your choices.

A sankalpa isn’t a petition but a statement of deeply held fact, and a vow that is true in the present moment. It is first, a heartfelt desire or what Jennifer Reiss calls "the heart's true longing." It's a statement that reflects your true nature, an "I am" statement. Underneath your intention or goal is the second part, but it should align with the first partt and with that deep sense of who you already are. How do you do this first part then? I see it as a deep listening that brings forth the feelings, thoughts and ultimately words that create your sankalpa. And to ask yourself "what do I really want?" requires that you sit with what arises, look beneath the surface, and take time to really listen. Both the heartfelt desire and the specific intention should be stated in the present tense. For example, rather than saying, “I want to (Or "I will") be more compassionate,” your sankalpa might be, “Compassion is my true nature” or “I am compassion itself.” Stating your sankalpa in present tense acknowledges the tremendous will, energy, and truth that arrive with the discovery of your heartfelt desire. It also reminds you that whatever is required of you is already within you.

What might this look like?

Set aside some quiet time to contemplate how you would like to feel during the coming year. Is there any way you can reframe results-oriented resolutions into something that will make this year’s journey more joyful and realistic? Create a short sentence for your sankalpa. Let your language reflect an openness to what may come, as opposed to fear about what may come.

When you stray from the essence of your sankalpa, don’t beat yourself up. What's the point? Change doesn't happen overnight. Be firm in your resolve— but gentle in the way you remind yourself. Daily gentle reminders are useful: Use it as a mantra during yoga practice, post it on your computer, phone, or mirror; or simply say it to yourself quietly before going to sleep.

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ACCOMMODATIONS:

The building itself was renovated to be energy efficient, and the room is moderately heated in cooler seasons to promote a good, healthy sweat, but not heated to an excessive or wasteful degree. There are cubbies in our large office to store your personal belongings, a spacious changing room, a comfy sofa and a water cooler (please bring a water bottle to fill, to cut down on paper cup usage). Two nice, clean bathrooms are located just down the hall. There are also cubbies in the studio itself for valuables, which students are welcome to use. We have a full lending library of yoga books, and encourage students to borrow freely. Gift certificates are available for purchase in any amount.

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GUIDELINES FOR PRACTICE

Please do not wear perfume or any strong scent

People with allergies can be very sensitive to scent. Also, lots of people sweating in a closed space is less stinky than lots of people all wearing different brands of perfume or deodorant.

Wear comfortable clothing

Not so tight it binds, not so loose it gets in your way. And please do not wear clothes that “gap” and are inappropriately revealing.

Practice on an empty stomach

If possible, don’t eat at least three hours before practice. If you know that this isn’t possible for you, eat easily digested food one hour before class.

No food or outside beverages inside the studio

If necessary, bottled water is okay, but remember we are trying to generate internal heat; constant sipping cools the body. After practice, drink plenty of pure water.

Bring your own mat

Shared mats are not hygienic; you may borrow one from us if one is available, until you are able to purchase your own, but please clean it afterward with the mat wipes provided. Please understand mats may be borrowed on a first come basis….we have only a few to borrow, and do occasionally run out of them.

Keep your eyes on your own practice

The practice is richer when it happens from the inside out. It’s not about comparing yourself with the person next to you. Be present with your own experience.

Be kind and loving to yourself

Rest when you need to. Honor where you are in your practice. Use the energy of those around to inspire, not diminish, you. Remember: you are perfect just as you are now, and yoga is meant to enhance that understanding and let that perfection shine. Have fun!

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If you are new to Upper Valley Yoga, you can purchase a 3-class pass for $30! (For our first-time guests only, package expires 15 days after purchase)

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Unlimited yoga. 6-month commitment is required; early cancellation fee of $50 applies if the auto renew is canceled before 6 months. This is the best value if you plan to attend at least 2 classes per week.

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One month, Student or Senior* rate, $120

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

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