A Sankalpa (Sanskrit: संकल्प) is an intention formed by an individual, something like a vow. In practice, a Sankalpa is a resolve to focus both psychologically and philosophically on a specific goal. A Sankalpa can act as a mantra to call upon to guide your choices and personality. “ I am peaceful. I am in control. I am kindness. I am open to the voices of others. “ Your Sankalpa is not about what you want, or don’t want, but about who you are, or who you want to become. For example, instead of creating the mantra “I won’t hurt other people,” you might say instead “I am kind.”
In today’s political environment, it is impossible to ignore the heated debate about abortion. It is a daily topic in the national news, and has pressed to the foreground in Louisiana politics. It is a complicated and personal discussion that has sadly made it’s way heavily into the public eye. The venom that has been created by taking a private decision into the glare of publicity has created an unfortunate side effect. The terrible feeling of a loss of control.
In truth, routine discussion of abortion, or pregnancy at all for that matter, is not part of my daily conversations at home. My children are currently too young to be affected, and I am too old. So what have I really lost? I have lost the ability to have private conversations with my family. I have lost the ability to teach my children what choices they have through education, respect, and kindness. I want my children to be able to ask me honest questions, and not feel judged for forming their own opinions. I feel like women in general are loosing their power in the political debate. Choices not just about abortion, but also about how we discuss reproductive health with our friends and family are being taken away. They are replaced by angry rants from people with different educational, religious, and political views than myself. And by people who are unable or unwilling to see that each case of pregnancy is it’s own unique situation.
I know what it feels like to perform CPR on my infant son, and almost have him die. I also know what it feels like to nearly bleed to death during the delivery of my daughter. I have many complicated feelings about being pregnant again. Strong private feelings.
How does this translate into my practice of yoga? In this environment, where I have lost control over things important to me; my body, my right to educate my own children, and my right to support other women around me in their personal choices, I often feel anxious and overwhelmed. The bad feelings creep up at night, and sometimes I toss and turn, stressing about our future as a nation that does not take good care of women or children. And so I turn to control. Recently in my practice and teac
hing, I have been emphasizing the topic of control. You might hear me say “Move with intention. Control your muscles, make deliberate movements to grow strength.”
“I am in control” has become a mantra in my head as I practice. I choose this Sankalpa to repeat to myself, to create the feeling of control in my body, mind and spirit.