Clarifying Your Sankalpa: Kapalabhati Pranayama

Clarifying Your Sankalpa: Kapalabhati Pranayama

500 hour yoga instructor training programBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Setting a sankalpa for the coming year will help to sustain your efforts in every area of your life. A sankalpa differs from a New Year’s resolution in several ways. A sankalpa is founded on a strong underlying desire for knowledge of the divine and a commitment to following a path of service to the world through adherence to one’s own dharma. A New Year’s resolution is frequently self-centered. For instance, common New Year’s resolutions may entail losing 10 pounds, or how to get a raise at work. A sankalpa, on the other hand, is informed by the desire for knowledge of the divine energy that suffuses all living beings and a wish to uplift the world by offering service through one’s own individual talents and skills.

The process of clarifying a sankalpa for the coming year is multi-layered. The first step is to quiet your body and mind long enough for clarity to arise from within your own being about the best course of action for you for the year to come. Pranayama, or Yogic breathing exercises, are some of the best tools for quieting the body and mind. Dirga Pranayama, or Three Part Breath, will help to balance your nervous system and quiet your mind. Kapalabhati Pranayama, or Skull Shining Breath, will help to blow away all of your extraneous thoughts, so that you are more easily able to access your heart’s deepest desires.

* Kapalabhati Pranayama or Skull Shining Breath

To practice Skull Shining Breath, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position on your Yoga mat. If your hips are tight, you may wish to sit on a blanket for extra support. Take a few deep, complete breaths. The practice of Skull Shining Breath entails repeated rounds of forcefully expelled air, followed by smooth, passive inhalations. When you are ready to begin, exhale all of the air out of your lungs by pulling in the lower part of your stomach area, and then inhaling smoothly and softly. One round of Skull Shining Breath is comprised of a gentle, full inhale, followed by a forceful exhale. Generally, one set consists of 20 or 30 breaths.

You make a wish to work up to 30 rounds at a time by doing several sets of 10 breaths, and then resting for a moment or two between sets. As you practice Kapalabhati Pranayama, imagine that you are invigorating your brain with fresh oxygen and clearing away all limiting thoughts and negative beliefs, in order to make room for uplifting thoughts that will support you in implementing your sankalpa. As your mind is freed from the fetters of negativity and separation, the true desires of your heart will arise from within. These heart-felt desires will guide and sustain you as you honor your own unique sankalpa in the year to come.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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