I was introduced to the idea of a Sankalpa when I did my first Yoga Nidra Teacher Training in 2020. According to the training it is a positive, present tense statement/intention that begins with, “I am", and should reflect a way of being you would like to cultivate.
In the training manual Shannon McPhee wrote:
"Often, the most powerful sankalpa is one connected to a belief about ourselves that we wouldn’t feel comfortable telling anyone at all. Sometimes we can be surprised by what we find when we explore what beliefs about ourselves that we need to transform. Once we are able to be completely honest with ourselves, our sankalpa can free us from something we’re ashamed to feel by acknowledging that belief and then turning it completely around. "
Being the child of an alcoholic I had long struggled with feeling safe and secure, so I decided to work with a sankalpa of "I am supported", as I felt that intention best described how I would like my life to be. And I can honestly say that since I set that intention about 18 months ago my whole world has changed, and I have never felt more supported than I do now.
This year I have decided to choose a new Sankalpa - "I am a leader". It speaks to me being brave enough to be seen, even when my childhood conditioning was to be unobtrusive, and, to embrace my crone energy, to stretch, to grow, to step up.
Even as I set this intention I have discovered some truths about sankalpa itself, because I am taking time this year to go back to the roots of yoga and learn from teachers from linages.
I am retraining in Yoga Nidra with Indu Arora, and she explains sankalpa like this:
"Sankalpa is a firm resolve which propels self realisation". She also says "Sankalpa is a promise to wake up, a goal for a lifetime, an inspiration for each breath, a vision to manifest, a determination to grow, a companion of dharma.".
And, our wonderful teacher Tejaayswinny told me last night that is is actually pronounced "sankalp", with a strong 'p' at the end. (She says it is "westerners who put 'a' at the end of everything".)
I don't like new year's resolutions, because they involve a lot of judgement.
I do like setting intentions, and I feel like having a sankalp(a) is the best type of intention.
So, I invite you to draft a sankalp(a) of your own for 2022 and beyond.
And if you would like to share it in the comments, or to me privately, I would love to support you in it.
Karen Howard is one of the co-founders of The She Oak Collective, the Vice-President of her professional association the Australian Holistic Healers & Counsellors Association, a Counsellor, Coach, Energetic Body Worker and teacher of gentle yoga.