By Sara Ivanhoe
September 03, 2001

It's been a few weeks since you've started your New Year's resolution. When the ball dropped you set a sankalpa, or intention. Maybe you vowed to practice more yoga, to be more positive, to lose five pounds, or to stop running late. Whether you've been successful or not, you can still focus on making those intentions a reality.

Yogis believe that we must be clear in our thoughts and words, because they will become actions—much like the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for." So sankalpa is the practice of conscious intention setting.

In these first few months of the new year, focus on setting an intention at the start of your yoga practice, when you are connected to your mind and body on a deeper level. Take a few moments to get clear on your intention. Make it a simple statement that happens in the present tense, almost like an affirmation. For example, rather than saying, “I will make more money this year,” say something like, “I am abundant in health, wealth, and love.” Once you are clear on this statement, use your breath to get that intention into your body. Take a deep breath in and once you are totally full, hold the breath for 30 seconds. This is a long hold, but imagine that the intention is filling out your physical body, that your body gets and understands who you are now. After 30 seconds release the breath and take a few regular breaths to regain your equilibrium.

Next, take another deep breath in and hold. This is for your mind. Picture the intention clearing out your brain and setting a new pattern. Try to keep your face and jaw relaxed. If 30 seconds is too long for you, you may shorten the duration to 20 seconds.

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The last hold is for the soul. Take an inhale and hold the breath and get your intention into the deepest part of yourself. Focus on that intention, repeat the phrase, and finally release your breath.

Close your eyes and notice how this practice makes you feel. You can repeat it several times a day if you like, and teach it to your friends. This decade will be transformational for you if you walk into it consciously!