Last Updated: December 7, 2018

Definition - What does Sankalpa mean?

Sankalpa is a Sanskrit term in yogic philosophy that refers to a heartfelt desire, a solemn vow, an intention, or a resolve to do something. It is similar to the English concept of a resolution, except that it comes from even deeper within and tends to be an affirmation.

This term comes from the Sanskrit roots san, meaning "a connection with the highest truth," and kalpa, meaning "vow." Thus, it translates to denote an affirming resolve to do something or achieve something spiritual.

Oftentimes, yoga practice can help an individual uncover and cultivate their own sankalpa in order to achieve enlightenment.

Yogapedia explains Sankalpa

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.

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