The Power Of Sankalpa

Feb 25, 2022

Do you set an intention for your yoga practice?

Sankalpa is a sacred vow, an intention, or an affirmation, for your practice that steers away from goal-orientation, to a more over-arching view of how you want to live within your life and body, both on and off the mat.

Intentions are delivered more often than not as I am, rather that I wish, or “I want”, or “I need”. They’re a present-tense statement, revealing the true nature of who we already are, if we are just willing to tap in and listen. So ‘I radiate kindness’ is infinitely more powerful to our spirit and psyche than, ‘I want to be more kind to people’.

Sometimes, not always, a teacher will remind you to set your sankalpa at the start of class – this is always a choice of course but something that should always be given at least some consideration. We can start with the question; ‘Why did I show up to the mat today?’

Was it just because you had sore hips? That’s fine, so can you set an intention to be ever mindful and present with the way you move your body. In this way, our sankalpa can protect us from accidental harm, both on and off the mat. Did you come to class because you’re feeling wired and in need of some space? Great, so can you set a sankalpa to breathe space and a sense of peace into your mind. Are friends, colleagues or family giving you the shits? Understandable, but can your sankalpa be, to simply be a source of compassion and empathy.


  1. Sit or lay in stillness and settle into a rhythmic natural breath. Picture in your mind what it would feel like to be whole, connected in mind body and spirit – and in service of your hearts great desire. What words spring to mind? Note them. Note the feelings and sensations too.

  2. As the intention forms, keep it short. One sentence, easily recalled, that can be repeated day after day without too much change. Eg. I live with wholehearted joy

  3. If it feels forced, explore why. Maybe it’s not for you at this point of your life. Maybe its a sankalpa that other people expect of you. If you’re in a very busy phase of your life, saying ‘I am slow and mindful’ may seem too far fetched, so try ‘I respect the seasons and cycles of my life’. You can always change a sankalpa as your life phases do.

  4. Acknowledge that you, as you are now, are divinely perfect. All you are asking is to reveal your true nature. A sankalpa isn’t a prayer for something different, or a request to change. So don’t start with “I am less/I am more/I can’t/I don’t” but instead focus on what you know to be true.

  5. It doesn’t have to be words! Maybe its a visual picture in your mind. I like to visualise playing with my daughter in the bush – we’re building a teepee cubby out of sticks and rolling with laughter. To me this symbolises some of my true nature, present with my child, joyful, and in nature.

Your sankalpa becomes a touch point for your practice, and in the same way that a teacher can guide you back to your breath, you can guide yourself back to the intention for your practice. “Am I being kind to my body in the way that I explore this pose”?, “Am I staying present with the breath”? “Am I practicing non attachment to this asana, to outcomes”? In this way, our Sankalpa becomes a mindfulness tool, drawing us back to the WHY of our yoga, not just the how.

Do you have a Sankalpa you’ve been working on for some time? Or one that you would like to utilise more?


  1. Write it inside your wrist before you come to class so you can glance at it any time (maybe not the palms or ink will end up on your mat!)

  2. Work with a crystal, or any item with symbolism to you, and take 2 minutes to close your eyes, item in your palms, and deliver your intention to that item. Then set your crystal etc at the top of your mat and every time you see it, you’re anchored to that intention.

  3. Write it on a piece of paper and slide it under the top of your mat. Out of sight but not out of mind, knowing thats its always there if you lose your way, and you can even re-read it one final time before you settle into savasana


  • Compassion is my true nature

  • Today I am open to receiving just what I need

  • Creativity flows through me

  • I feed my body with positive foods and positive thoughts

  • I am already whole

  • I am generous with my time and my presence

  • I am boundless love

And lastly, the setting of intentions are not just for the practice of yoga, but the lifestyle of yoga too. Perhaps, before you meditate, set an intention and if your mind wanders, use that sankalpa as an anchor.  Before you enter the chaos of a Saturday morning shopping centre, can you set an intention that you can come back to if you’re feeling overwhelmed or angsty. Before you set the table for an inevitable dinner battle with your kids, can you set an intention that will help guide your interactions with them over the course of the evening. And in this way, our Yoga begins to ripple and form waves, little by little, out into our lives and the people we care about, including ourselves.

xx Kaye