If you have come along to the last few classes during the festive break we have been looking at intentions. We have thought about setting one at the beginning of the class and reminding ourselves during the class of that intention made.

In yoga there is a word called Sankalpa which means setting an intention or concept through willpower, determination or conviction, which can help to benefit areas in your life. It is formed in the mind and may also be seen as a spiritual resolve. Its true meaning is that it comes from the depth of your soul purpose and a reflection of your deeper truth.

Rocks on the beach

In the West for the New Year many people will make a resolution often stating something that they don’t want anymore or wishing to change something in their lives. That may leave us with a feeling that we are not good enough and need to be ‘better’. A Sankalpa is different as we don’t promise to be or do something. It is aligned with our life purpose with the will to follow through with our heartfelt desire. It can be made at anytime in the year not just something we make at the beginning of each year.

By definition, a Sankalpa should honour the deeper meaning of our life.  A Sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma – our overriding purpose for being here

Rod Stryker

###How to set a Sankalpa?

Some people set a Sankalpa during yoga nidra (also known as yoga sleep which is a powerful meditation technique), during a meditation practice or at the start of a yoga class.

First we need to relax the body and calm the mind with the breath. When we feel calm, relaxed and are in a meditative state we can truly start to listen to our inner selves and ask what it is that we need. First of all just listen to what arises. Our heartfelt desires already exist within us. You may like to contemplate what you really want or what you would like to bring into your life.

When choosing a Sankalpa use a positive affirmation that is in the present tense so that you are in the freedom of the present moment using words such as ‘I am’ or ‘I feel’. Instead of saying ‘I want to be less stressed’ it would be changed to ‘I am calm in what I do’.

###Some examples may be

  • ‘I am calm and loving’

  • ‘Compassion is my true nature’

  • ‘I am positive about my life’

  • ‘I am strong in body and mind’

  • ‘I find beauty everywhere’

  • ‘My world is a peaceful place’

You can also be more specific if you wanted by taking it into an area of your life which you hope to aim for. For example if you felt you wanted to change your exercise regime rather than saying ‘I will exercise more’ the Sankalpa would be ‘I enjoy feeling healthy’.

To start with it can be as simple as just choosing a word that resonates with you that you dedicate your practice to representing something positive that you wish to bring into your life.

Girl meditating

Throughout January we will look at intentions and explore setting a Sankalpa at the beginning of the class. Through our poses, meditation, breathing and other focused practices we help to channel our energy to connect to these desires and nurture our well being.

If you continue to work through a Sankalpa at home or other classes they can be connected in the same way or through a yoga nidra class. You may find it works for you to repeat it in the morning when you wake up, during certain parts of your day, or before you went to bed. It can be repeated once or experiment with it saying it 3 times.

You may find that it takes a bit of time playing about with a different Sankalpa and trying various ones until you find one that feels right for you and one that you can continue to work with not just on the yoga mat but in your everyday life. Enjoy discovering your Sankalpa to realise your heartfelt desire.

As is your desire, so is your will.

As is your will, so is your deed.

As is your deed, 
so is your destiny.

Brihadaranyaka - The Upanishads