The closing ceremony of the 1st annual Udaya Live had just finished. The mood in the air was astounding. Everyone at the festival glowed with delight and joy while looking grounded in the intimacy of connection and celebration. My girlfriend and I both performed at the festival. She and I, still awed from the festival experience, walked down to the main hotel lobby from a small reprieve in our room. We ran into a glossy eyed and smiling Yariv Lerner, the founder of and the man responsible for Udaya Live. We expressed to him how well we felt the festival went. His reply was short and sweet, “It was because we had the right intention.”

The softness and insight of these words stuck with me. I think often about the role our intentions play in the results we experience in life. In this case the role of intention with a large group of people gathering to practice Yoga, celebrate life, music, culture, and art. One thing I have noticed is that sincere Yoga practice makes intentionality strong.

In the Yoga tradition, Sankalpa is taught to generate intentional power. Sankalpa is the harnessing of the individual will to motivate an action which mirrors directly and accurately a predetermined aim. In its ordinary passive state, the individual will can appear cast about, distracted by influences and tending toward losing its aim. The Yoga practitioner draws out the skill in action through learning to observe the will in action. Present in one’s thoughts and movements, sensations and feelings, the Yogi comes to a ‘true heart intention’; Sankalpa. A one-pointed determination which fuels the consistent follow through of intended action.

Intentions arise from many places in the human being. Sometimes they come from only the mind, or only the emotions, or only the nervous and instinctual body. Yoga teaches that the ‘heart’ from which sankalpa arises is the present time simultaneity of all three. A ‘true heart intention’ never dies. In a strange way, it is never fulfilled (like the ‘new ferrari’ can be). The ‘true heart intention’ constantly brings us back to asking more of our self than we are today. It is applicable in all life circumstances for it touches Life beyond the ordinary while requiring it to be played out in the ordinary. Sankalpa is a sincere prayer that the limited power of will that we experience as an individual will grow stronger and possibly give way to an unending stream of manifesting power.

Etymology of Sankalpa

  • Sam – One, unitive, integrated, total, collected, being
  • Kalpa – to do, to act, to perform, to achieve, measurable, doing

Check out these word pairs:

  • To do oneness
  • To act unitive
  • To perform integrated
  • To achieve totalness
  • Measurably collected
  • Doing Beingness

** I point out the word pairs not because they define a good intention for yourself. I put the words together to point toward the moods which intention setting aims at in its wording.

What makes an intention practical?

  • Doable
  • Measurable
  • Posits us as working within a limitation.

“As an individual, a specific entity, you have physical, mental, and nervous limits, among others.  If you know you own limits and try to stay within these limits, you are free.”

– Swami Prajnanpad

Swami Prajnanpad reminds us that our limitations are best treated honestly. Notice that he says your being free (high on the top ten best intentions of all time list) is not acquired by transcending your limitations, but by knowing and acknowledging them. That as I accept and work within my limitations, however difficult the struggle, I can gain skill in application. And that the skillful performance of activities which used to frustrate and confuse me, might instead allow the natural delight of being to bubble to the surface.

Sankalpa is a statement of assertion that arises from an honest and clear account of what is, and complete trust in one’s whole being; to allow from the dignity and sanctity of silence, an intention as strong as sincere wedding vows to arise.

It sounds like,

“I am…”

You fill in the blank.


By: Brent Kuecker – Yogi. Musician. Educator.



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