Setting Intention: 5 Tips for Creating a Powerful Sankalpa in Yoga Nidra

Creating a sankalpa, or intention is a fundamental principle for offering your practice to something larger than yourself and moving your life in the direction of manifesting your intention. But creating a powerful intention can be one of the most difficult things to do.

I remember when I began my yoga practice, various yoga teachers would say, “Take this time to set your intention,” and 30 seconds later—if that—we were on to the physical practice. I was always stumped by it, and it ended up becoming a fleeting moment of the practice. Once I became a teacher, I would then reiterate those same words. I tried to make the time longer, but then I questioned this practice too. If I had been given an extra 30 seconds, would it have made a difference?

I soon realized that I needed to truly understand what was I asking of myself and my students. What is an intention, and how do I create one? I didn’t come to recognize the power and necessity of an intention until I found Yoga Nidra. It was in this practice where I developed a sense of what an intention was and why it was important.

A sankalpa isn’t just any resolution or pact that you make with yourself. Its true nature is ineffable since it is something that comes from deep within oneself and can even manifest without words. Through the consistent practice of a sankalpa, one begins to feel united with this sankalpa to the point where certain habits are lost, profound changes occur, life improves, and the quality and essence of living are revealed.

That’s pretty intense, to say the least. So where do you begin? There aren’t necessarily hard-and-fast rules, but I have found the following five tips for creating a powerful sankalpa to work quite well in giving me direction.

1. Be Present

The root of a meaningful sankalpa comes from the willingness to be present. It’s in this presence that you will sense everything that comes up, including thoughts, words, ideas, colors, and emotions. In your best attempts to be silent, this wave of inner noise flows through. Being able to stick with that inner noise, to let it be, will eventually give you the time and the space to sift through it and come across valuable information to develop your intention. Even if you feel as if you are coming up empty-handed or too “simplistic,” you are probably exactly where you need to be.

2. Translate Your Messages

As I mentioned, your intention may not come in the form of words. So as these thoughts, feelings, and images appear to you, try to translate them into words. It doesn’t have to be exact. As the words ruminate, you’ll land on some pretty poignant words that seem hard to shake. Those words will most likely find their way into your sankalpa.

3. Write It Down        Yoga studies, writing down intentions, Sankalpa and yoga

When coming up with your intention and sifting through the information, journaling can be an excellent way to make some sense of all these valuable messages. Creating a powerful intention requires a lengthy introspective and reflective process. Repeating this effort and comparing the notes that you’ve written, you might observe a reoccurring theme, perhaps a necessity or something that strikes deep into your inner being.

4. Use Present Tense

As the words to start to take shape, forming your intention in the present tense gives your intention optimal potency. If health is your reoccurring theme, to intend to be healthy in the future doesn’t help to embody your intention right here and now. The future tense is indicative of one day, but not today. The present tense affirms that with every ounce of your being you are embodying health in some way, shape or form.

5. You Are Your Sankalpa

Your sankalpa isn’t just a 30-second intro to practice, but rather a part of you that is inseparable. It is your mantra; it is your focal point. It is you. This way your sankalpa is free to flourish at any part of your day, and not relegated just to while you’re practicing Yoga Nidra. You should practice the same sankalpa consistently, rather than creating a new intention every time you come to any practice. Use the same sankalpa throughout all modalities.

Although you can think of your sankalpa and be reminded of it, it truly is something that resides deep within you and manifests spontaneously. One sankalpa that I use very often is that I am strong and calm at the center of my being. It was meant to manifest physical strength and reduce mental stress. Its manifestation rooted deeply, and in ways, I didn’t expect. These included emotional strength and the ability to deal with difficult situations with a cool demeanor.

This shows that the words I used were indicative of what my inner self was trying to convey. Yet my thinking self misconstrued it a bit. However, this did not diminish its effect and helped me to search beyond words for creating a powerful sankalpa in Yoga Nidra and all my other practices.

More yoga practice tips from Allison Schleck and YogaUOnline – Three Unique Ways To Prop Revolved Triangle Pose.

Allison Schleck, E-RYT 500, RPYT is a vinyasa-based yoga teacher, fascinated by the intricate relationship between the mind and body. She offers a range of alignment-focused classes touching on anatomy, philosophy, and creative propping with a mindful approach.  In addition to teaching group classes and managing the Yoga Culture studio in Danbury, CT, she also teaches at Open Door Family Medical Center in Westchester, NY empowering mother’s to be with prenatal yoga classes and childbirth education. You can find her @allisonschleck on Instagram and


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