At the beginning of the yoga class the teacher usually asks to set a positive intention for a practice: to think for a moment why you are on the mat, and then at the end of the class to remember this positive intention and repeat it to yourself. Why is it so, what’s the meaning behind “sankalpa” and how to set the positive intention which is right for you?
Meaning of Sankalpa
The term Sankalpa’s from Sanskrit is as follows: “San” means altogether and “Kalpa” means idea. This can be translated as will, purpose or determination, and also connecting to your highest truth.
Why to set an intention?
The idea of a positive thinking is not new and not solely referred to yoga, it has been exploit in phycology and coaching. It is considered that if only we learn to think more positively, we become more happy.
It is not until one of my clients gave me feedback about setting the positive intention that I realised the power behind it (and that it really works). As I was teaching private yoga one of the ladies who had quite a few problems with her health and generally was quite negative towards life at that stage of her life. When I first asked her to set a positive intention for a yoga practise, she said that she had absolutely nothing positive to think of and thought of skipping this part. I explained that Everyone can have something positive to think of. For example, setting a positive intention for health (e.g. “I am healthy”, “I am becoming healthier”, as 2 simple examples) So, class after class, and in about 10 classes that lady said that by then the positive intentions started to come easier to her mind, and generally she started thinking more positive even outside of the yoga mat.
It is a bit like training your mind. There are many techniques to do so. For example, writing a diary of gratitude: every time before going to sleep write down 10 things you are grateful for this day. This helps to teach yourself to focus on positive things. The mind sometimes works like bees and flies. Imagine a beautiful garden with flowers: the bee will always find a flower and settle there, while a fly in the very same garden would rather find a piece of excrement and only settle there. Both bee and fly will get completely different experience in the same garden. So is our mind. There is always something to be grateful for in your life.
Positive intention for a yoga practice
Coming back to yoga. Yoga asanas have often been thought as a form of exercise. However, it is far beyond that. “They are not exercises, but techniques which place both physical body and mind in positions that cultivate awareness, relaxation and concentration”, according to Bihar School of Yoga.
There has been extensive scientific research proving the ability of regular yoga practise (under professional supervision) to counteract stress and treat psychosomatic diseases and cardiovascular diseases. And sankalpa plays quite an important role in this.
How to set a positive intention or sankalpa
You must select your own sankalpa very carefully, clearly and precisely and it shall be in present tense as if you have already achieved it. These are some examples:
– I am successful in all that I undertake.
– My mind is relaxed and clear.
– I am more aware and efficient.
– I forgive myself and others.
– I have an open heart.
– I am surrounded by people who love me.
– I am on the way to total health.
You can find many more examples of the positive intentions in the books of Louise Hay.
Power of positive thinking
Choose your sankalpa in accordance to your needs. If you want to work on a particular sankalpa long-term, do not change it to another once you have chosen it and don’t expect results overnight. Time is required depending on the nature of your sankalpa and the degree to which is is planted in the mind. According to Bihar School of Yoga, the result depends on your sincerity and dedication to achieve your goal.
And then you will remember that yoga is not just exercise but a form of listening to your body and translating it into your lifestyle.
- Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Bihar School of Yoga
- Yoga Nidra by Bihar School of Yoga
- Positive Affirmations by Louise Hay.