5 Tips to Creating a Meaningful Sankalpa
by Emma Lowe
What is Sankalpa?
Have you ever been in yoga class and zoned out when invited to set an ‘intention for your practice’, or during Yoga Nidra got the dreads when asked to call upon your sankalpa?
Know that you are not alone. Getting clear about our intentions and coming to know our life’s purpose can take a little time and heart felt thought.
First let’s get clear about what an intention is not – it is not a goal or resolution.
When I’ve set myself a goal, it has usually been based around something I no longer want in my life and I become overly attached to a particular end result. The slightest of deviance makes you feel like you’ve failed and ultimately to quit what might have been a very good and worthy intention.
In my experience goals are set in the thinking mind, bringing with them layers of conflict between the unconscious mind and the workings of our being.
Our bodies therefore do receive the mentally constructed goal of change but instead energetically receive the internal conflict, which is the opposite of the desired effect and any changes materialising out of sheer will and determination rather than deep rooted and lasting transformation.
With an intention however, we don’t need to judge whether we win or fail. An intention doesn’t trigger that conflicting voice in our minds.
An intention is a direction which allows us to learn from our detours without judgement, so we don’t quit, we don’t fail – we simply notice we’re face deep in the box of chocolate (self observation without judgement) and pull ourselves away from them (re-choosing our new direction) and get back on track (towards our intention).
Where I have found radical and lasting transformation is with the use of intention or sankalpa within the practice of Yoga Nidra, which I’ll be sharing on our Thailand Yoga Retreats this summer/fall..
Yoga Nidra is a full body, conscious guided meditation process dating back to the Tantras.
Lying down, usually in savasana, you are guided to physically and energetically relax, withdrawing from the senses and external stimuli and coming to rest as open awareness itself in the bliss layer of being or Anandamaya Kosha.
Here we work with intention at the very subtlest layers of our being.
In this state intentions can be planted without the presence of the conflicting mental mind and real paradigm shifts can occur.
But how do you actually go about setting an intention or a sankalpa?
1. Make your intention about you
How do you want to be in the world?
What is your highest expression of yourself?
2. Let it resonate within you
You know when you have found the right intention for you as it will feel right.
It will resonate throughout your entire being.
Our intention should create a sense of expansion in the body.
3. Phrase your intention positively & in the present tense
Your intention should be a statement of truth. You may not fully believe it right now and that’s okay but feel it as though it were true and start to cultivate and direct your attention and energy in that direction.
Being cruel and drawing upon “negative” traits and characteristics seldom motivates lasting, positive change in ourselves (or in the world).
By focusing all our energy on the things we don’t like or don’t want creates discord – which is actually the opposite of the desired outcome!
For example rather than “I want to quit smoking” or “I want to be thin” your intention could be “I am healthy and only do things that nourish my body”.
Or rather than “I want to be less anxious” your intention could be “I am at peace”.
Make your intention withdraw energy from where you don’t want to be and instead direct your energy to where you do want to go.
4. Keep it simple and concise
So you easily can recall it whenever you need it.
If words aren’t really your thing, perhaps make your intention an image or a sense. As long as it creates the energetic sensation you want; your intention can be truly anything that works for YOU.
However, the best part about working with intentions in Yoga Nidra is that even if you aren’t quite sure of your Sankalpa, the more you practice Yoga Nidra and allow yourself to rest in open awareness – the more you naturally come into better alignment and harmony.
Often bad habits and emotional patterns and all the things we tend to set intentions to shift naturally melt away, sometimes without you even realising they have been transmuted.
5. If you’re still drawing a blank, ask yourself what is it that you truly want from this short and precious life?
What are the things that light you up and that make your wild heart sing?
Do more of whatever it is that you love and allow yourself to be more YOU in everything you do
and in doing this, you’ll align with an intention so deep and profound it lies beyond what the body can feel or the mind understand yet all things will fall into place.
Click here to find some free Yoga Nidra recording from Emma, including one on to help you find your sankalpa.
Founder of Essential Nature Yoga, Irish nomad and Celtic Yogini Emma Lowe facilitates Yoga and Yoga Nidra practices which merge yoga and nature based wisdom. She has also been Communications and Creative Director and assistant facilitator with Somah Journeys since 2018.
With a background in creative and performing arts, Emma engages music, song, folklore and story telling for the purpose of personal and cultural healing in her offerings. She is also a poetic writer, photographer and painter. Since childhood Emma has been engaged in using these mediums for the purpose of peace and reconciliation through cross community projects in Ireland.
Emma’s career in film and television opened her eyes to an holistic way of living and opened her heart to a spiritual path while working on a national religion and ethics series. Later while working on hit HBO series Game of Thrones, Emma found balance and a way to deal with personal grief through mindfulness techniques she learnt from a Buddhist nun. An encounter which eventual led her to the yogic path and to South East Asia.
Trained in Vinyasa Flow, Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra, Emma teaches intuitively and with a deep understanding of life’s natural cycles and rhythms in order to nourish and inspire her students.
Emma sees yoga as a vehicle for personal and social change and offers inclusive, safe spaces where everyone and everything is welcome. She is particularly passionate about practices that support women’s health, having trained with Tina Nance in Womb awakening and studying with Yoni Shakti author Uma Dinsmore-Tuli. Emma offers hormone balancing restorative yoga and her popular Yoni Nidra (womb meditations).
Emma spends time working with the native plant medicines of the Amazon basin, including the ‘vine of death’ and has received medicine songs and red road teachings during her time in South America, which inspired her to study and share her own ancestral roots through Celtic spirituality and Celtic Medicine wheel teachings.