What is a Sankalpa?

As an instructor of yoga in Berlin, I am often asked about the various parts ofthe practice I teach. One of the most recent questions was one coming from a new student in my Hatha yoga in English class. She asked. “What is a Sankalpa?”

Changing your life starts with setting the right intention. A Sankalpa is a very powerful tool that can help do just that.

Yoga Nidra at English Yoga Berlin

photo by Fern

Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word meaning resolve or resolution. It is a short, positive phrase that we use in order to build up an aspect of our character that needs strengthening. Take, for example, a person who wants to stop smoking. This person can very well understand all the reasons to stop smoking and even agree that being a non-smoker would be best for their health. But this understanding and agreement would be coming at the level of the intellect which is ruled solely by the conscious mind.  And that is often not strong enough to take lasting action. By using the Sankalpa during relaxation, we have better access to the subconscious and have it work together with our conscious mind towards a common goal. This way the change that the Sankalpa brings into our lives is a more whole and permanent one.

My Berlin yoga class includes 70 minutes of positions and 20 minutes of relaxation and visualization in which we introduce aspects of yoga Nidra (conscious deep sleep). As we relax after yoga, we let go of our defenses, we become more vulnerable and the subconscious becomes more sensitive and receptive.  That is the moment that we repeat our Sankalpa. When we first create our Sankalpa, we are planting a seed in our subconscious. Every time we go back to it and repeat it in our relaxed state, it is as if we were going back to it and watering it, caring for it so one day we can reap its fruits. For this reason, we keep the same Sankalpa until it becomes a reality in our lives.

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