Sankalpa – Setting your intention

You may have been in a class at Yoga Unlimited where the teacher invites you to set a ‘sankalpa’ before you begin your practice and you may have wondered what ‘sankalpa’ meant. There are several English translations for this Sanskrit word, including intention, affirmation and dedication, among others. Each of these translations expresses a different aspect of the original flavour of the word but the one that I connect most easily with is ‘intention’.

Setting a ‘sankalpa’ is as easy as formulating an intention for yourself. When you consciously set an intention before beginning a pursuit, whether it’s a yoga practice, a marathon or even a mundane chore, you embed the suggestion into your subconscious and galvanize your internal resources to bring it to fruition.

It’s best to use a relaxed approach when setting your ‘sankalpa’ so that your mind is receptive to the suggestion you’re trying to make. It’s also wise to use positive terms so that your brain will accept that what you are willing for yourself is possible. You may choose to use a present tense phrase, for example, ‘I am strong and focused’. You may also choose to use future tense, for example, ‘I will stay connected with my breath for the entire practice’. The above are just examples. In order for the ‘sankalpa’ to have meaning and power, you must choose your own.

Before you decide on your ‘sankalpa’, relax a little first by watching the natural rhythm of your breath or doing gentle pranayama (breath work). Then allow the appropriate ‘sankalpa’ for the day to arise, without forcing it or having any particular idea or goal in mind. It’s surprising how an appropriate sankalpa can just appear! We are very wise creatures; we just have to step out of our own way sometimes to allow our innate wisdom to surface.

Once you have your ‘sankalpa’, simply repeat it to yourself once or twice before setting about your practice (or marathon or chore!). Then, when you have finished your practice, take a moment to repeat the ‘sankalpa’ again. By bookending your practice in this way, you are focusing your energy in a positive direction and powerfully affecting your psyche.

~ Kelly Fisher

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