The new year often opens with a resolve for healthier living. How do we make these changes? With one sneaker in the gym and a bare foot in the yoga studio, I observe two different approaches to self improvement.
The fitness folks emphasize goals like losing 15 pounds or running a marathon. Goals provide measurable benchmarks and motivate us as architects of our future.
Yogis set an intention, called a sankulpa. Examples include, “I choose healthy foods” or “I exercise my strength and stamina.” When repeated in the present tense these statements affirm shift in the moment.
When we feel like a lost ship lost in a dark sea, what’s better: goals or intentions? Both can illuminate our path.
Aiming for a goal guides us toward a lighthouse. However, goals can be unrealistic, unattainable or limited to a myopic mindset. Choppy waters or rocky shores may hinder us: A knee injury could derail training or dieting down to a size two may not be healthy.
Like a flashlight, a sankulpa shines our inner light toward conscious change. Our glow becomes dim or diffuse when we underestimate our intent. The focus of a sankulpa helps us manage inner obstacles like cynicism and perfectionism. Practice builds our luminosity like a muscle.
Consider what is obscured in the darkness. What do goals signify and intentions reveal? If you did lose weight, would you allow yourself to feel beautiful or powerful? What self-destructive habits conflict with your higher purpose? Shine into your shadows.
Both goals and intentions commit us to the daily marriage of the mystical and the mundane. They kindle small steps toward healthy, lasting change.
In the spirit of new endeavors, I ‘d like to share my 2013 aspirations:
- Partner with Athleta by writing for the Chi Blog and co-creating unique in-store events.
- Lead my first international retreat to Italy: a yoga and culinary culture adventure.
- Continue as the In-house Yogi at Clif Bar & Co.
- Teach my public classes and workshops at Namaste Yoga and Wellness.
- Participate in cadaver dissection lab.
- Study with my teacher at the Omega Institute.
- Deepen my teaching through writing, classes, and innovative events.
- Nourish myself as a student by reading, continuing my education, and working within a skilled community.
- Sustain my movement practice. Use it to access my creativity, vitality, and ability to serve.
SADIE CHANLETT-AVERY is a yoga instructor and holistic fitness trainer who grew up barefoot on a farm in West Virginia. As a chubby kid she felt awkward on the co-ed soccer team and clunky in dance classes. By adolescence she gave up on organized sports and became increasingly sedentary... more »