Unlike a goal, which is a personal need to accomplish something, the concept of sankalpa turns inward to connect with the heart's highest intention. A goal can be thought of as an individual's will, while the sankalpa is the universal will. A sankalpa is a positive declaration or affirmation, such as “peace is my true nature,” rather than the ego-driven “I want peace in my life.”
The sankalpa is most resonant during yoga nidra, a state of very deep relaxation. It is believed that when the mind is relaxed, the sankalpa can be written on the subconscious. It may also be repeated in the morning, before meditation, or at the beginning of any yoga asana practice.
During seated meditation, sankalpa mudra (a hand gesture) connects the right and left sides of the brain so the mind, spirit and body can work cooperatively to bring change. In this mudra, the left hand rests palm up on the right thigh, and the right hand covers the left with the palm facing down. The practitioner's personal sankalpa is then repeated.