This article is a yoga nidra FAQ on setting intentions & sankalpas for making durable positive changes effectively.
Yoga nidra is rapidly gaining in popularity these days, mostly because it’s so blissfully exhilarating. Yoga nidra (pronounced nih-drah) means “yogic sleep” and is an ancient yoga practice with benefits supported by modern-day science. It’s a powerful experience of progressively relaxing and restoring physically, energetically, mentally, and emotionally that naturally opens us to accessing our intuition, unconditional joy, and deep restorative peace. It’s very refreshing too. In fact, one hour of practice is equivalent to four hours of sleep. See more documented benefits of yoga nidra here.
The yoga nidra process also makes it completely possible to clear out useless habits and bring about positive and durable changes to your lifestyle and positive personality changes by using a sankalpa at the start and the end of the practice. A sankalpa is a special intention, a self-selected resolve that you choose yourself. It’s a sacred vow and promise you make in support of your highest truth. Sample sankalpas are “I am courageous,” or “I have confidence,” or “My life is worthwhile.” It’s a quality that helps you become or do something worthwhile with your life. Likewise, it can be a reflection of your True Self such as “I am conduit of love,” or “My true nature is peace.”
How yoga nidra helps you make behavior changes and enables you to develop positive personal qualities.
“Our day-to-day frame of consciousness (beta brain waves) makes it extremely difficult to make and maintain our good intentions because they crash into our long term conditioning, habits, and social pressures,” as reported in Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief (New Harbinger Publications, 2015). “Through no fault of your own, your mind is simply not very receptive to making these changes. During yoga nidra, we knowingly, consciously, and consecutively experience different types of brainwave levels that are receptive to change that include alpha, theta and delta frequencies and are associated with levels of consciousness. The level reached during yoga nidra depends on the depth of your experience. When we implant a resolve in the subconscious mind, useless thoughts and behaviors can be weeded out and the conditions are created for significant and transformative change to take root and grow.” Success is fortified by staying with the same sankalpa from practice to practice until it becomes a reality and takes root. Consistency counts.
Setting Intentions & Sankalpas
Time is set aside at the beginning of yoga nidra for a sankalpa to reveal itself naturally instead of intellectually. Making intellectual sankalpas rarely yield results. In other words, one that you “should” make or one to please others. Instead, have one that resonates and rings true with you. Go for a balance between letting it come to you intuitively and thinking it through. Furthermore, you could have one specific to help with weight loss, getting more exercise or stopping an unhealthy habit, but it’s advised that you pick a grander quality instead. In doing so, the behavior change is likely to happen anyway and you will also reap many more benefits. For example, if you choose kindness as your sankalpa, true self-kindness will lead to eating better and exercising more by being kinder to yourself in support of your health. In addition, kindness will naturally bring on generosity, patience, and other positive qualities.
Word your sankalpa positively, in the present tense, clearly, and concisely. Keep it consistent. Back it up sincerely with gratitude and inner will. If using “I am” seems too challenging or too mindboggling, try adding “more and more” to it. For example, “I am content, more and more.”
- I am kind.
- I am trusting.
- I am accepting of my feelings. Or, I accept unhappiness as part of my human experience.
- I have abundance.
- I am grateful for a peaceful nature.
- I embrace all of who I am.
- I enjoy life fully.
- I welcome health and wellness.
- My true nature is joyful.
Using a Sankalpa during Yoga Nidra.
A sankalpa is first silently said at the beginning of your yoga nidra experience and with your whole heart. It helps if you use your senses to imagine what it would be like if it were already true. Once again, repeat your sankalpa several times near the end of yoga nidra. Namely, when you are totally at ease and in the fertile delta brainwave state, and before coming back to full awareness. This is when your brain is most receptive.
I had my doubts about the effectiveness of using a sankalpa, especially when writing Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief, so I put it to the test with a variety of students. Much to our delight and satisfaction, results started rolling in. Find out for yourself by reading their stories in the book. Better yet, try it yourself. Please let us know about your experience.
How to Experience Yoga Nidra:
Like all worthwhile things, regular practice yields the best results. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
- Listen to Yoga Nidra: Guided Meditations for Relaxation and Renewal (Health Journeys, 2016) or use the recordings listed below. Read about it and get free audio downloads in Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief (New Harbinger, 2015).
- Go to a yoga nidra workshop or retreat here.
- Take a yoga nidra teacher training course and earn a certificate here.
Resources: Books, Recordings & More