After Yoga Writing Circle: Sankalpa

The writing that my fellow yogis produce after our Saturday yoga class with Sally continues to inspire me. 

For our last session, we wrote about our sankalpa, a Sanskrit word that means “resolve, intention.” Before meditation, the practitioner visualizes herself having, doing, or being the sankalpa.

Typically, this type of meditation is done before a yoga nidra practice, which involves lying down and mentally naming 54 body parts. 

With the body and mind in a state of deep relaxation, yet still awake and conscious, the practioner’s intentions penetrate the deeper layers of consciousness, creating a greater potential for the goals to be realized.

I wrote this intention about how I would like to wake in the morning. I wrote it in the present tense, as if this were my actual waking experience.

I wake in the morning with the first light of day and take a deep breath. My heartspace feels open and soft, and I’m at peace. 

Birds singing outside my window fill me with joy.

I sit up in bed and meditate for a short time before I let the dogs out into the backyard.

After a cup of chamomile, I roll out my yoga mat, full of energy and motivation to meet the day. 

I’m excited about life and the possibilities this new day will bring.

I suppose this is a kind of prayer I am asking of the cosmos, of God, and of my own inner self. It might sound like a sugarcoated version of reality, but as Tibetan Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman has said, “To create something, you have to imagine it first.”

Why shouldn’t we desire the best for ourselves in terms of spiritual and psychic evolution? 



Within the tradition of yogic meditation there is the concept of sankalpa. At the beginning of an extended period of meditation, known as Yoga Nidra, or sleep of the yogis, the practitioner visualizes, feels, intuits, or silently states a certain aspect of life he or she wants to see manifested. The translation of sankalpa (from Sanskrit) is the English word intention. The idea is that if we internalize our positive intentions while in a state of deep relaxation, we will be more likely to act on those intentions in our daily thoughts and actions.

An intention is different from a resolution in that there is no way to fail or not meet one’s expectations. Each day we work on creating the life we want to live, rather than waiting for New Year’s Day. If we choose a particular sankalpa, we keep it in our minds until we see the results we have been visualizing. But it’s always possible to change because of intervening events in our lives.

It’s interesting how events unfold. Last year I kept saying to myself, “I have a published collection of poems.” I said it to myself before falling asleep at night, and I repeated the affirmation at the beginning of my Yoga Nidra meditation, visualizing a book spinning around in space with the word Poems embossed in silver on the cover.

And in 2008 I did publish a collection of poems, although it wasn’t made of poems I wrote. Jo Hemmant and I produced ouroboros review, which is most definitely a book of poems. Our intentions don’t always come about the way we originally dream of them, but it’s important to look back and see the results of our thoughts and actions, and to recognize the power of the imagination. It’s also a good idea to be very specific when trying to get a message across to the unconscious mind!

My sankalpa now is to write strong poems that move others, and to share them in print, on the web, and in person, through readings and workshops. I say it in the present tense, as if it were already true.