At the start of every yoga class, I always invite students to set an intention for the class, something they want to cultivate more of in their yoga practice, work life, relationships or life in general. This intention is called San Culpa in Sanskrit and it is a powerful tool for manifesting your deepest desires into reality. While this is classically done in yoga, this can also be done at the beginning of each day and most certainly at the start of a new year, something we commonly know as the “new year’s resolution.”
For most, new year’s resolutions are big audacious goals like weight loss, smoking cessation, beginning an exercise routine, finding a new job or setting boundaries in our relationships. And for many, these resolutions last for a couple of weeks and we quickly slide back into our old habits. In fact, according to University of Scranton research, only about 8% of people actually achieve their goals.
San culpa is a bit different. The ancient sages of India observed that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our deepest desires and intentions. San culpa works with the power of intention, planting a seed in the field of all possibilities. Beyond that, you don’t have to do anything. Simply set the intention and let it go freely without hanging on to it. There is no place for the daily struggle or inner battle of making the right choice.
The classic Vedic text called the Upanishads tells us, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
Meditation is the perfect vehicle for connecting to your deepest desires. By slowing down the breath and turning inward, you begin to cut through the mental chatter to quiet the mind and tune in to stillness. This is the ideal state for setting intentions. However, you can practice san culpas at any time – while driving your car, before a big meeting, before eating, in the shower, walking the dogs…any time you think of something you want to cultivate more of in your life. Simply say it to yourself quietly or silently and use the present tense. ie. My life flows with effortless ease.
Louise Hay, well-known speaker, healer and author of Heal Your Body, is an expert in affirmations, having cured her cancer with the help of daily san culpas. Her website is a wonderful resource for getting acquainted with setting intentions and their powerful effects. She also has many books, dvds and even phone apps devoted to this.
Once you release your intention into the world, there is no more that you have to do. Simply let go of any attachment to it and trust in the infinite organizing power of the universe. It is important to allow what comes your way without resistance. The outcome you may want to force may not be as good as what comes naturally. No matter what the result is, the seeds of your intentions will sprout when the season is right. And as Dr. Wayne Dyer reminds us in The Power of Intention, “We don’t attract what we want, we attract who we are.”
As you begin this new year, reflect on your deepest desires and intentions. Try setting a san culpa at the beginning of yoga class and come back to it at the end in your final meditation. Breathe it out. Let it go. And see how your world begins to change.
May this be your best year yet!
Sarah Balmer, BS, CPT, Certified Yoga I.S.® RYT-200
Certified Holistic Health Coach Living 3Sixty