Some days it can be a struggle to commit to practicing yoga. You start with the best of intentions. You book a class. You set up your mat. You even get your cute yoga outfit ready. And then…
Life gets in the way. Work calls. Social media distracts you. Or, it’s just too cold to get out the door to class.
It happens. We’ve all been there. Probably more times than we’d like to admit.
I’ve found a little hack that helps me get unstuck when I fall into this rut. I remember that my practice is not just for me. I connect my sankalpa to help me get in motion from my heartspace – not my headspace. I don’t know about you, but some days, it feels easier to hit the snooze button than to hit the yoga mat.
Sankalpa? What’s that?
So what exactly is a sankalpa? Glad you asked!
In Sanskrit, the act of setting an intention from the heart, a vow or a committed resolution is called Sankalpa. A sankalpa in yoga goes beyond mere goal setting. It’s about connecting to your hearts highest and purest intention – a connection with something bigger than your own personal needs or desires.
So, on those days when my mind thinks that my warm blanket is a better option than my yoga mat, I tap inwards and set an intention to practice for something other than myself. The fact is, I always enjoy my asana practice. Whether is 10 minutes or a full hour, I always feel better when I’ve had my time on the mat. It’s getting on the mat that can be tricky sometimes. That’s when my sankalpa comes in.
This one goes out to…
Now that you know my secret hack, I’ll share with you a few ways I’ve applied it. This helps me keep my word to myself. Not just for the purpose of getting on the mat for asana practice, but also for keeping me rooted in what yoga is truly about – union of the mind, body and spirit. When I start by bringing my heartfelt intentions into the practice – I build my heart muscle in an energetic way. ….Start with a deep breath…it always starts with the breath – put your hands on your heart and listen for its guidance in setting your intention today.
So, here are 7 ideas for dedicating your yoga practice.
- Practice for a loved one.
Dedicate your practice to someone special in your life. Your partner, your parents, a sibling, or cousin. I sometimes dedicate my practice to a dear friend I haven’t seen in ages. Sometimes I’m inspired to practice for my son. Other times I practice for my ancestors (hey grandma!).
2. Practice for the earth.
If you’re like me, you may sometimes feel powerless to do something meaningful to help mother nature. Try dedicating your practice to whatever areas of change you would like to support. While it may seem like only a small step, every step towards positive change counts.
3. Set your sankalpa for someone unwell.
When I wake up healthy and strong, I try to remember not to take that for granted. I set my intention to be in motion for those who simply cannot be, due to illness or incapacity for whatever reason.
4. Dedicate your practice to a cause or mission you believe in.
As you move, imagine the energy you generate, positively impacting a cause that matters to you.
5. Practice for your future self.
Connect to a future version of yourself that is thanking you for showing up and committing to your practice. Visualize the hug your future self would give you in gratitude for your consistency.
6. Commit your practice to a body part.
Now I’ve already said a sankalpa is about more than just your own personal needs. However, there are times when choosing to practice for my heart, or my right knee or my ears was exactly what I needed to quiet my mind and stay committed to being in action. Give it a try and see what insight your chosen body part offers during your practice.
7. Practice for the Higher Power you believe in.
Your movement can be a meditation. It can also be a prayer. Set your sankalpa for your yoga practice to be a communion with the God / Allah / Buddah / Jah / The Universe or whatever life force you connect to.
Movement that matters
The small but powerful step of setting a sankalpa reminds me that yoga is not just an exercise class. It’s a chance to deepen my connection to myself. When that happens, my capacity to more authentically connect with others, increases. It is an empowering experience.
Sometimes, the pathway to deeper self-connection is found in looking outwards and reminding ourselves of the bigger whole we are a part of. Dedicating your practice might be a helpful hack to stay consistent and committed to your yoga. Better yet, it may also help to keep you connected to your higher self and to your capacity to be in service to others.