As the fire works exploded into the London sky, and the last stroke of midnight chimed out on the radio, I hugged and kissed 2013 goodbye and embraced the New Year.

But it’s not long before my mind turns to The New Years Resolution game. We all play it. That age-old unchanged list: give up smoking; eat less chocolate; be a nicer person.

We begin the New Year full of excitement and with a sense of possibility. But by the second week of January all those oversubscribed gym classes, and packed swimming lanes will shrink. Even the super markets keep their wine shelves fully stocked, knowing that resolutions are made to be broken, despite the cries of, “Oh darling I couldn’t possibly, its dry January.” 

As for me, I said I would cut out sugar again but by the time I have written this first paragraph, I’ve taken a break to find a biscuit to dunk into my tea and will no doubt buy are bar of chocolate on the school run.

Resolutions just don’t work. But what are the options?

In yoga, there is something similar to a resolution that I make each year. It’s called a Sankalpa. In Sanskrit this means, purpose or determination. To make a Sankalpa is to set a positive intention. Rather than giving focus to something we deem negative, a Sankalpa is focused on being loving and kind to ourselves.

Its purpose is to deepen and give space to explore the issues that are often under the negative labels we give ourselves.

It is usually a clear, short sentence encompassing our whole self. For example: to lose weight, get fit, or give up booze would be rounded into: “this year I would like better health.” To find a partner; make up with a relative; or visit your grandmother more often, may be “to give and receive more love in my life.”

A Sankalpa, is traditionally spoken softy at the start of Yoga Nidra meditation, but the phrase can be recited each day as often as needed. Write it down and hang it where you can see it or make it your screen saver.

When we chant our Sankalpa, quietly, and peacefully to ourselves, we are planting the seeds of a positive
affirmation and real change.

The effects last much longer than a week after the clock strikes midnight. A Sankalpa takes you through the year to get to the heart of change. We feel it, breathe it and then become it.

My Secret Place

Memories of Campiglia August 2010

I open the shutters, take in the sea view and instantly I am soothed. This yoga studio on the Italian Tuscan coast feels like a sacred home.

It is my secret place.

For 10 years now, I have been so taken by its tranquil beauty that I’ve not felt complete unless I’ve returned every summer.

This year for the IMfit retreat, as I taught yoga in the studio, on the beach and in the woods, I thought about my need to reconnect with this space every year. 

Each time I rolled out my yoga mat, and connected to the earth and then to my breath, I began to realise that this secret place was not in fact anywhere in that gorgeous Tuscan landscape. It was actually within me.

Creating an environment to support your time on the mat is important but not if it becomes more important than taking to the mat and meeting yourself at all. 

My practice is a time for me to listen to my body, soothe my chattering mind, struggle with my desires, passions and pains and connect to that inner secret place within.

Whether walking the grubby streets of London or strolling in the Tuscan countryside, that secret place is always with me.