Setting a Sankalpa


SAN: a connection with the highest truth

KALPA: a vow, reminder, promise, or commitment to oneself


On October 7th, we are entering into the New Moon.  This is the time to plant a seed. This is the time to create a Sankalpa and notice what manifests.

Loon Lakes Portraits

Loon Lakes Portraits

What is a Sankalpa?

Loon Lake Portraits

Loon Lake Portraits

A Sankalpa is much like setting an intention, or reciting a mantra, but taking it a step beyond.  Many of us have dabbled in the practice of intentions/mantras, and find it familiar or somewhat simple to tap into.

In my experience, creating a sankalpa is a deeper, more thoughtful, and long-term practice. Sticking with the same Sankalpa for at least 30 days, and up to 365 days, is ideal.

We worked through this practice during my recent training with Inner Peace Yoga Therapy in Austin, TX. I’ve found creating my Sankalpa to be very powerful. That’s exactly why I’d like to share this with you.

A Sankalpa is a statement that is positive and in the present tense.  We state it as though it’s already happening - because it is.

What I believe makes me who I am.
— EE Cummings

The Process

To begin, grab a piece of paper, or your journal.  Free write for 2-5 minutes. Write down any and all positive words that come to your mind.  We are changing the frequency of our thoughts here: from negative to positive.  


Next, find some time today, or this weekend to bring your words with you outside.  Connect with something in nature. It might be a leaf, toad, stick, rock, bird, flower, piece of grass, deer, lake, etc.  Spend 10 minutes to an hour meditating on this subject/with this subject. Perhaps recall the words you’ve written down on your piece of paper and contemplate the ways in which this natural being/object embodies what you’ve written.  Feel free to write down the comparisons and similarities.


Above is a photo of the tree I connected with during this exercise.  I sat on this swing, under her canopy, and after some quiet time, I wrote:


Creating Your Sankalpa

Last, notice a theme, pattern, or aha moment that continues to find its way to the front of your brain.  That’s it. Go with that.

Sankalpas begin with a present and positively stated word, or phrase:

  • I am…..

  • I operate from a place of….

  • ….“x” and “y” flow to me.

  • I lead the way with…...

For example.  After all that free-writing, meditating, and connection with nature, the simple theme that popped up for me was balance.  The Sankalpa I’ve stuck with for nearly 30 days is:

“I am balanced”.

Bailey Aro Photography

Bailey Aro Photography

This Sankalpa has manifested in small, amazing ways for me.  I recite this little reminder in my head several times a day:  before I fall asleep, when I wake up in the morning, before I eat, before I watch a show on Hulu, before I say yes to a commitment, when I doubt myself, before I practice yoga, and more.

What has surprised me the most is that this practice has actually created a huge shift in me.  While I was in Austin, TX for 2 weeks it was quite simple to create and maintain balance because I was living in the most relaxed, inviting, and positive Ashram environment.  I had a fear that when I returned home, to the influx of stimuli, I would let all of my balance and positive habits go. Some little habits that I don’t particularly like have returned, but I feel really, really good overall. I am eating healthier, I am moving in nourishing ways, I am sitting with better posture, I am sleeping on my back with pillows to prop me in just the right way, I am drinking less wine and more water and tea, I am using sesame oil instead of lotion, I am adding ghee to my morning oatmeal, I am rolling out my tense fascia, I am going on daily meditation walks, I am journaling, I am practicing my pranayama, and I am practicing my yoga asana. At the retreat Joella told me that it seems like I’m kind of glowing ever since I got home from Texas.  I told her that yes, I feel that way too. I am balanced. I’m working on my Sankalpa.  

During the last New Moon in September, I planted the seed of my Sankalpa: I am balanced. This Sunday, October 7th I will contemplate whether or not to stick with this one or notice if something else is calling to me.  


Take some time to journal, sit in nature, and create a Sankalpa that is calling to you.  Or - did you create a Sankalpa at our Fall Into Joy Yoga Retreat? Block off time this Sunday to engage in a little nourishing movement on your mat, or go for a walk, come back to a quiet place to practice your favorite breathing exercise, pause, meditate, journal, and plant the seed of your Sankalpa.

And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Bailey Aro Photography

Bailey Aro Photography

Bryana Cook and her husband, Dan Ryan live and play in Longville, MN.  Bryana is a yoga teacher/business owner (Northern Namaste Yoga & Boreal Bliss Yoga Retreats) and clinical social worker. Dan is a local fishing guide (Dan Ryan Guide Service) and environmental educator. Together they make a point of living a life they enjoy in an area they love.  Lake country provides endless opportunities for fun. When not near a lake, you may find Bryana and Dan hiking with their dog Sunny, traveling, or chopping wood and moving it around.

Bryana Cook