Larissa Hall Carlson Says the Future of Yoga Is in Shifting the Sankalpa from Self to Community - Yoga Journal

Larissa Hall Carlson Says the Future of Yoga Is in Shifting the Sankalpa from Self to Community

“For long-term yoga teachers and practitioners, sankalpa (intention) is naturally moving away from individually focused goals of self-discovery, mastering advanced poses, and transformational yogic pilgrimages, and turning toward community-oriented support.”
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Larissa Hall Carlson

It’s time. Our world is changing and the yoga community is starting to shift its attention. Threats of war, natural disasters, and extended political unrest have left communities struggling, families in fear, and individuals in a stressful state of high alert. The vast field of yoga is changing. For long-term yoga teachers and practitioners, sankalpa (intention, or heart-felt desire) is naturally moving away from individually focused goals of self-discovery, mastering advanced poses, and transformational yogic pilgrimages, and turning toward community-oriented support

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The need is real, and this new yogic movement is incredibly inspiring. Able, dedicated yogis are taking action: maintaining enough yoga practice for daily self-care, stress reduction, mental clarity, and overall health, then getting off the mat and serving society directly. It’s a shift from the precious practice of silently bowing and dedicating the fruits of yoga to someone at the end of class to the pragmatic practice of actually doing something helpful for the community.

Studios are shifting from fun and popular “yoga and wine” events to now much-needed community dinners, clothing drives, park clean-up walks, voter registration promotion, free restorative workshops for school teachers, students donating time to babysit while a new mom takes a class, and such. The possibilities are endless, and savvy studio owners are finding creative ways to make a difference. 

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For yogis who have practiced during years of relative normalcy (the usual chaos of life), this may feel like a big shift away from the previously emphasized personal intention of progressing on the yoga path. When the current worldly uproar has settled (which may take years), the return to a deep and intense personal practice on the mat will come naturally. Until then, the world needs more studio owners, senior teachers, and teacher training programs to get involved in changing the collective yogic sankalpa and taking action to strengthen local communities, support the environment, and ensure a healthy future for our youth.

READ MORE The Future of Yoga: 30 Teachers, Only 1 Way to Go

About Our Expert
Larissa Hall Carlson, former Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist, Yee Yoga teacher, and Kripalu Yoga teacher. As Faculty at Kripalu Center, she directs foundational and advanced yoga teacher trainings, and specializes in pranayama and the Ayurvedic approach to yoga.