Welcome to part two of our 3-part series discussing the powerfully healing practice of Yoga Nidra. In Part One, we discussed What is Yoga Nidra? Today we discuss one of the distinguishing aspects of the practice, Sankalpa, or heartful intention. The word Sankalpa breaks down into two parts. San meaning "of the highest truth, of the heart" and Kalpa meaning "a vow followed above all others". So, when combined, a Sankalpa is a vow you commit to that serves your highest truth (I.E: purpose, dharma, intention).
There are two kinds of Sankalpa.
One is a broader, sometimes sweeping, general statement of a desire for a state of being or achievement you wish to realize that will have an overall positive effect in your life. For example, "I am joy", "I am unconditional love" or " I am compassion".
The second kind, I have recently heard referred to as "stepping stone Sankalpa" which I think is a great description. This or these sankalpas may be "stepping stones" to help you to get to the broader statement above or they may be completely unrelated. But often, a Sankalpa you feel is unrelated may reveal itself to be quite connected as it evolves. In reference to the broad statement above of "I am Joy", a stepping stone sankalpa might sound something like this: "I recognize and embrace the moments of happiness during my day."
So, there are some things to consider in developing and stating your Sankalpa.
First, your Sankalpa is best stated in the present tense as though it already exists. By speaking your intention in this way, it reinforces it as truth. And, it begins to create a neural pathway of it's existence in our nervous systems. Pretty amazing.
Second, you want to explore your initial Sankalpa for it's deeper, heartfelt meaning. For example, if you wish to quit smoking, you can ask yourself "what will my life look like, feel like, when I succeed at quitting"? Your answer may be that you'll feel healthier, more energized, inspired, vibrant, that you'll most likely live longer to enjoy the planet, your family, your friends. So, you may form a more heartful intention from this. "I honor my health and cherish my life therefore I choose a smoke-free life".
Third, your Sankalpa may and most likely will evolve as you realize these "stepping stone" sankalpas along the way. For example, after you have quite smoking and begin feeling healthier, you may shift your sankalpa to a more general desire for the state of being referenced earlier. Such as "I am vibrant and full of energy" or "I embrace life with Joy" or simply "I am Joy".
So, you may see how this process of Sankalpa can begin to unravel itself not unlike peeling away the layers of an onion.
Lastly, it is suggested to work with just One Sankalpa until it is realized rather than bouncing around to many different ones. The specific words may evolve to what resonates better with you but stay with one until it is realized or no longer resonates for you.
In conclusion, don't worry about whether your first Sankalpa is perfect. Just pick one and begin working with it. It will reveal itself to you. And as you weave your Sankalpa into the practice of Yoga Nidra consciously, it begins to weave it's own way into your subconsious, your physiology and your life positively. And the possiblities are limitless.
Thanks for joining me for part two of this 3-part series. I look forward to sharing more with you in Part Three and at the Restorative Arts & Yoga Festival this May where I'll be presenting a Yoga Nidra Workshop alongside my co-teacher Ashley Cooper.
Watch Lauri Glenn's Introduction to Yoga Nidra, Part Two here:
Lauri Glenn is a yoga instructor and massage therapist as well as an avid outdoor enthusiast in the Tahoe region. She will be one of our workshop leaders at the upcoming Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival this May. Learn more about Lauri and her practice here.
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