SANKALPA – SETTING AN INTENTION
WHEN TO USE A SANKALPA
If you’ve attended any of my classes or workshops you’ll sometimes hear me invite you to ‘set an intention’ for your practice. This idea comes from the yogic term Sankalpa. The root of the word ‘san’ means “a connection with the highest truth,” and kalpa, means “vow’. So, ‘Sankalpa’ translates as vowing to connect with highest truth, meaning to resolve/intend to do or achieve something that is heart-felt. This is why we will always take a few moments before setting our intention so we can quiet the mind and ego becoming settled into what our ‘soul’ or inner voice is asking for. A goal can be thought of as an individual’s will, while the Sankalpa is the universal will.
We use Sankalpa whenever we are making a commitment to bringing something into our lives or letting something go. It’s not to be used lightly on a whim or for every little thing we want.
Connecting to our heart’s desire allows for the Sankalpa to be phrased as a positive declaration of intent, such as “joy is my true nature,” rather than the ego-driven “I want to be happy.”
As well as getting quiet and stating a positive declaration the Sankalpa can be sealed with a ‘mudra’. Another yoga Sanskrit term, a Mudra is a PsychoSpiritual gesture usually of the hands, that locks and guides energy back to the brain via the reflex system.
THE SANKALPA MUDRA
Left hand crosses the midline (heart energy center) and rests with palm open (receptive mode) on the right thigh.
The right hand goes over the left with the right palm facing down in a grounding mode.
Bringing the palms to face one another connects both hemispheres of the brain. All aspects of us–body, mind and energy hear the commitment and can work together to make our resolve happen.
HOW TO SET A SANKALPA
- Find a comfortable position
- Take a few deep inhales and exhales
- Let the breath return to normal and begin to get quiet
- Listen for the heart to speak
- Phase your intention in the positive, present and universal
- Check for ego demands
- Adopt the Sankalpa mudra
- Can be used not just before a yoga practice but any activity. Particularly useful before going into a potentially difficult situation of conflict.