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What is a sankalpa and how to uncover yours


Sankalpa: Finding Your Heart’s Desire!

‘Be silent, hide away and let
your thoughts and longings rise and set
in the deep places of your heart.
Let dreams move silently as stars,
in wonder more than you can tell.
Let them fulfil you – and be still.’

Fyodor Tyutchev, the Russian poet and statesman may never have heard the term Sankalpa but in this extract from his poem he understands instinctively what it is to listen to the heart, to find the heart’s desire.

Losing heart

I feel sometimes that we have lost our way. The modern age makes machines of us all, dictating our waking hours, our rest and sleep; educating us to fit into an industrial landscape. And in this rush to produce, to advance, to be busy, we have lost connection with the inner life of the heart, the very part of us that makes us so beautifully human.

The power of the heart

How many times in your life have you heard the message of your heart but ignored it only to find out later that it was right all along? I know I have. It’s as if your heart is your champion, your knight, there to protect and to guide your best interests, a place of wisdom. We know intuitively the power of the heart; our language, literature, art, music is heart-focussed. It is the place we feel we really reside and the place from which we connect with our fellow beings.

The heart as a second brain

In recent years, scientific research too has discovered that it’s not just our brain’s that control us, the gut and the heart are much more influential on our being than previously thought, just like a second brain the heart communicates with the rest of the body and brain via hormones, nervous system and electromagnetic field.

What is a sankalpa?

Sankalpa literally means vow and a connection to the highest truth, the rule for you to follow above all others; it speaks of your true nature, something that you already are, and is a simple statement, individual to you, that reminds you of your purpose, so that you can make choices in accordance with your sankalpa. Through the practise of Sankalpa, the yoga tradition offers a way to access the heart’s wisdom to bring about your heartfelt desires, and to do this you don’t even have to change! When you uncover your sankalpa your life can begin to flow and you can blossom into the full expression of who you really are.

So how do you uncover your sankalpa?

Uncovering your sankalpa is a process of listening, it’s not something that you make up… and this can be the challenge. It takes patience to sit and wait for your sankalpa to naturally arise and not to impose this on yourself with your conscious mind.

Using yoga nidra to uncover the sankalpa

In the satyananda tradition, this waiting and listening, tuning into the heart’s desire to uncover the sankalpa, is achieved through the practise of yoga nidra, yogic sleep; a form of deep relaxation where the conscious mind (and your ego) can take a back seat. (Take a look at www.yoganidranetwork.org for lots of information and resources on yoga nidra).

What if I’ve tried yoga nidra and didn’t find my sankalpa?

So what happens if nothing happens? Well…. you wait. It really is that simple. Or what if the desires that arise are for practical things like money, a new job, a healthy pension? Patience and understanding is required and this takes practise through meditation or yoga nidra. But along the way you can help the process with a little conscious self-enquiry and it could go something like this….

– “I want to give up smoking”
– “Why do I want to give up smoking”
– “So that I will be healthier and fitter”
– “Why do I want to feel better”
– “Because I love myself”

I hope you get the idea that it is a process of drilling down, of not just accepting your first answer, an uncovering of a truth that was always there if only you could hear its voice.

How a yoga retreat can help you find your sankalpa

Often we can get stuck in our daily lives, things seem great and yet you feel there’s something you’re missing. This is where taking some time out to go on a yoga retreat such as here at the gorgeous Lucia Yoga gives you mental as well as physical space away from the roles you play, the influences of family and friends, your work; a golden opportunity to really listen to yourself without all the ‘noise’.

So don’t lose heart, take some time for yourself on retreat or through the practise of yoga nidra, have patience and perhaps the song of your heart will make itself heard. And when you find your sankalpa hold it dear. Above all, listen to your heart, it never lies!



Annie Raynor
Annie Raynor
Hi I'm Annie, a Dru Yoga teacher, Dru Dance teacher and musician. After experiencing many different styles of yoga over the years I trained in Dru yoga (qualified 2012) a form of hatha yoga with elements of qi gong, because of its inclusive ethos and its flowing, gentle nature. Since then I have taught full time combining classes, workshops and retreats and have loved watching people discover things about themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, and the blossoming of a vibrant yoga community. In 2015 I trained as a Dru Dance teacher, a movement form that combines classic yoga with dance choreography, not because I'm a great dancer (I'm not!) but because I love to move, and I believe in the power of dance and yoga to bring joy. I am also trained in yoga nidra (yogic sleep) and currently studying to be a hypno-psychotherapist.

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