Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word, which can be translated as resolve or resolution, it is similar to an affirmation as it is a positive mental statement. However through yoga practice the seed of sankalpa is planted deep in the subconscious, therefore proving to be more powerful and effective, and unlike most affirmations, is always fulfilled. For success, a resolve should be planted when the mind is relaxed and ready to accept and absorb it. Traditionally we pronounce the sankalpa at the beginning of yoga practice, which can be compared to sowing a seed in the bed of our mind, and then at the end of practice, when the mind is receptive and sensitive to autosuggestion, which can be compared to irrigating it. In the receptive state of meditative mind we are able to correct the negative patterns already existing in the brain. Each of us has the power to remould our own mental structure, no matter how impossible it may seem at the beginning.

Sankalpa is a very powerful instrument and it should be chosen intelligently. To create your own sankalpa take some time to think about what areas of your life you would like to improve, how you might want your personality to change as well as about your goals and the purpose of your life. It is worth taking some time over this process. Sankalpa may evolve over time, but start with something which is important at this particular moment. Depending on your stage of life your sankalpa could be focused on reforming of bad habits, improving the quality of your life and living, creating a real change within your personality, or realizing what you are trying to achieve in this life. The sankalpa is not just something nice you repeat three times twice in your yoga practice, but it is a motivating force that you are living and moving toward, all the time, every day. If you know what you want to achieve in life, sankalpa can be the creator of your destiny.

The correct formulation of sankalpa is critical to the success of its practice. The following rules will help you to achieve best results in the shortest time:
1) The sankalpa should be formulated as a short sentence which aims at one goal only. The wording should not change, even if the meaning stays the same. You also need to fix the language of the resolve. Whichever phrase and language you choose, it should always be the same, until the resolve is fulfilled.
2) It should be made in the first person by using "I" or "my". Completely different from a prayer in this sense, your sankalpa must involve you only, and cannot help to change something in another person. However it definitely can be formulated to change your attitude towards the situation around that person.
3) It must be joyous in its essence and therefore "not/don't/won't/can't" and other negative words should not be used. For example, if you desire to recover from a medical condition it should not be structured as "I am not sick"; instead a positive statements such as "My physical body is healthy and strong” or "I enjoy perfect health” can be used. Only positive language should be used.
4) It should be stated in the present tense as if it has come to fruition already, and must be supported by our positive emotions in order to create a powerful binding mechanism within our subconscious. When pronouncing your sankalpa feel what you will feel when you achieve the desired outcome and see yourself in a new desired state. Symbolic positive images and/or pleasant physical sensations in the body will increase the power of your sankalpa.

For instance, the statement "I will not be smoking in 3 months" is not a good sankalpa to stop smoking (negative + future tense). Another possible correctly formulated statement could be "I am free of addiction"; however this has a limited therapeutic aim. By looking deeper at the roots of the problem and widening the understanding of the inner causes, one might come to a stronger and more efficient sankalpa as "I am secure in myself", "I am at peace with myself", "I am open with clarity and love to share my truth and integrity with the world", "All is in Divine order and whatever happens will be just what I need", etc.
If you are not sure what you should aim at, I recommend starting with a simple sankalpa "I am at peace with myself". Bringing peace into one's life helps to reshape one's personality and direction in life along positive lines that eventually lead to balance, happiness and fulfilment.

Don't expect results overnight. Depending on the complexity of the request the manifestation will take shorter or longer time to come into full being. One should have sincere faith that the resolve will be effective. The result depends on your sincerity and deep felt need to attain the goal of your sankalpa. Knowing how this works is irrelevant compared to knowing that it does work. This faith strengthens the effect of the resolve on the subconscious mind, so that the resolve will become a reality in one's life. Keep practicing and continually repeat your sankalpa with conviction and passion. The sankalpa made during yoga practice never fails.

I would like to acknowledge the origin of my own experience of sankalpa and yoga nidra within the teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga). May his teachings reach you as a blessing through your practice.

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