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how vikalpa prevents sankalpa — chattra blogger Nikki Estrada's thoughts on realizing the Yogi’s resolution

January.  The perfect time for reflection. I like to review the past year and recall the changes, the challenges and the successes.  I also like to look forward.  I ask myself:  What didn’t work? What do I want to improve upon in the new year?

Many of us commit to a “New Year’s Resolution” only to find a few weeks in we are back to our old habits. How can yoga help us move forward -- including shedding old patterns?

A little over a year ago I spent a very focused workshop with one of my teachers, Rod Stryker.  One concept in particular resonated with me:  vikalpa.  It was my “aha moment” of the amazing and helpful weekend.  In essence:

If you have a strong desire to achieve something, a deep call to accomplish something, then that task is called sankalpa. This is like the yogi’s version of a resolution. You may have incredible dedication to that sankalpa, incredible drive to realize it.  But if your vikalpa —that which goes against— is stronger than your sankalpa, it will hold you back.

The questions to therefore ask are: what is your vikalpa? what could keep you from achieving your sankalpa?

I instantly named my vikalpa: fear of being criticized or judged by other people.  If I want to fully be me, and share all that I have, I need to be okay with people judging me or criticizing me...I need to harness my vikalpa. If I let criticism and judgement “get me”, it also “gets” my sankalpa.

As we move into 2017, create your intentions for the year with an eye on discovering what might hold you back.  Understanding your vikalpa is as important as the commitment to your sankalpa — because it has the power to derail your best efforts.   Recognize when vikalpa arises, stop and quickly course correct.  By identifying the belief or fear that goes against your sankalpa, you’ve created a yoga practice in and of itself. 

I hope this little nugget of self-understanding can support you in moving forward on your yoga path and creating a positive and productive 2017!

About Nikki Estrada

Nikki Estrada has been in the yoga scene for more than twenty years.  She lectures, leads workshops, teacher trainings and immersions nationwide. Nikki began her formal training in India, focusing on Ashtanga—a very physically challenging style of yoga. She is currently a senior yoga teacher and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nikki's Vinyasa-based classes are a synthesis of her years of yogic and Ayurveda  study and personal experience, with an emphasis on spirituality, intelligent alignment, meditation and living life more joyfully. Her videos can be found on www.yogainternational.com. More information about Nikki can be found at www.nikkiestradayoga.com   She resides in northern California with her husband and two daughters.


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