Updated: Jan 2
In yoga, we call intention setting "Sankalpa" (pronounced Sun-Kulp-Uh in Sanskrit, and Sun-kulp in Hindi)
Sankalpa is more than resolve. It is a specific type of shakti (force) that is shaped by determination, inner fire, vow-making, and will. It is shaped by a commitment within the heart-mind-body-and soul.
The Varaha Upanishad suggests that all of creation came to existence due to sankalpa-shakti. In the Chandyogya Upanishda, it is stated that will is a greater force that the mind, as it is the root of all motivation and accomplishments.
Setting intentions correctly comes from the inner space of knowing: who you are and what you want for yourself. And that knowing comes from connection.
Often, our ancestors and gurus protect our commitment to our Sankalpa.
When we set an intention we put the whole of ourselves behind it to execute that intention - heart, mind, body, soul, and will. This all helps us stay on the journey. Thus, sankalpa is not just a goal or a loose choice about what we want for the upcoming year, rather it is a powerful resolution that comes from who we are inside. It also isn't about wanting to change ourselves or find problems that need fixing.
Yoga isn't about fixing a broken self, rather it is about recognizing our wholeness and taking steps towards knowing ourselves that way.
Thus, setting your sankalpa is a beautiful practice of getting back to who and what you are. This comes from stillness so that the truths of your heart can be known and Inquiry. Something to consider when you start or re-start your yoga practice in the new year is: What do you want for yourself? Why are you here? What makes you happy? What do you need? What are your desires? What is your Dharma or purpose?
Sankalpa is a call to self-knowledge.
You can choose anything for your sankalpa - much like you can choose any focal point for meditation - but choose wisely, because that is what you will become.
New Years resolutions can be harmful when we look at ourselves as broken in need of fixing or if we are looking for a quick-fix solution to our problems. Shaming our hearts, minds or body will only lead to more suffering. Instead, look within to connect with who you are, and what your deepest purpose is. Listen to the messages of your body, mind and heart.
You are beautiful as you are. You are not broken. You do not need fixing.
New Year resolutions, and intentions can be very good and helpful things, They are an opportunity to connect with yourself and begin or continue the inquiry process. They are a way to remember that you are a whole wonderful being. Also, there is a lot of collective support as many folks embark on journeys of discovery and self knowledge.
In yoga traditions, Sankalpa is often necessary to set before embarking on the journey. In order to stay motivated, confident and resolved to stay on the path, a practitioner will connect with themselves to create a firm resolve. Sadhana, helps the sankalpa to settle into the mind through repetition and stillness in the mind.
Add yoga to your life for peace of mind, for joy, for health and for well-being. Set your sankalpa or intentions to support the idea that your essence and nature is whole and beautiful. Yoga is a practice of self-love. Learn how to do it from this place.
My next session begins the first week of January. All are welcome!