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.
RESTORATIVE YOGA AND GONG BATHS – A PERFECT COMBINATION
Alicia Davies of www.earthsongsoundhealing.com and I pioneered the combination of restorative yoga and gong baths. These two practices are natural bedfellows, focusing as they do on slowing down and reconnecting to our innate healing abilities. Many have heard of yoga but not all are familiar with Restorative Yoga. This gentle practice is truly open to everyone. You don’t have to be young, bendy, dynamic, strong or any one of a hundred things, people sometimes feel they need to be, to practice yoga. You just need to be willing and open just like you do with the gong bath.
Restorative yoga does what its name suggests – restores. A session may begin with some gentle simple movements, followed by a few positions sitting or lying down which are held for longer periods of time. Props are provided to give as much support as is needed for total relaxation in the posture. We’re not looking to build strength or to get into really, deep, stretches. We ask the body to open a little and let go of tightness and restriction – often the result of our response to stress and trauma, be that from the body, mind or emotions.
A lot of the time in 21st century life we are increasingly in the ‘fight or flight’ mode, our bodies are flooded with stress hormones and this can show up at the very least as tightness say, in the shoulders right through to serious illness. By practising Restorative Yoga, you gently move the body from ‘fight or flight’ to the relaxed ‘rest and digest’ nervous system, which helps relieve the stress response. Benefits include better sleep, better digestion, more energy and less fatigue.
The combination of opening via the Restorative Yoga and then immersing in the gong bath vibrations really lets people switch on their own healing mechanisms. We are more powerful than we can imagine but with the help of these two profound practices we can begin to take back our own healing power.
You don’t need any special equipment just comfortable clothes, a pair of socks and a desire to let go and drop into your relaxation response.
I’ll never forget my first gong bath, a room packed full with people and these amazing vibrations cursing through my body. I’d already been into yoga and meditation but this was a different level. But why do they work so well? Gong baths use sound and their frequencies to allow the mind to move into Alpha and then Theta brainwave states. Alpha states indicate deep relaxation and allows the brain to daydream, use imagination and firing up associative thinking and theta occurs during REM or dream sleep and deep meditation, when the body can begin to heal itself.
The frequencies of the gongs and the brain become as one and this method is great for those who find meditation a challenge, as the gongs literally transport you to deeper levels of consciousness. Sessions are typically under an hour and the effects can be long lasting. Gong maestro Alicia Davis collaborated with me recently on a yoga workshop and has this to say about gongs – “Some of the words people use to describe the effects of receiving a gong bath are – Amazing. Powerful. Relaxing. Rejuvenating. Trance-inducing. Healing. Gong Baths are one of the world’s most ancient modes of healing used for thousands of years. They have the potential to be transformative and help people achieve lasting well-being”. For more info on Alicia visit http://www.earthsongsoundhealing.com/
I had so many different name ideas for this site but Satisfy the Hunger seemed to encapsulate what I was hearing from so many – a need to find food and practices that nourish our depleted, stressed-out selves.
Why I decided to do a site in the first place was because my yoga students would ask where they could find out about my food and get advice on recipes and techniques and my private cook clients wanted to know more about the yoga I offered so I decided to put it all in one place.
My posts will focus on practices and techniques that nourish the body and the soul across the spectrum of food and yoga but always with an emphasis on the practical. Who has time to prepare three-hour gourmet ‘raw’ meals or two-hour early morning yoga sessions? OK maybe some, but for the rest of us we need to access practices which are do-able, fit with our lives, are effective and Satisfy the Hunger within for a life that sustains us.