Sankalpa is a specific intention or goal, a one-pointed resolve as explained by Master Paalu. A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma—our overriding purpose for being here. This topic got me thinking about my purpose in life – what I want to do, what my sankalpa is, no matter how small or big, to get to where I want to get to.

To live our soul’s mission, we need to reach milestones. Setting specific goals can help to connect our conscious choices with our unconscious. To do this, we can ask ourselves what things need to happen for us to progress on our path. Once we have realized this, we can then form a personal Sankalpa that describes what we need to do and inform our subconscious where we need to direct our energy to make progress on our goals.

Over time, our actions will start to align with our intentions, moving towards our goal or purpose. By formulating our Sankalpa and focusing on bringing it to fruition, one step at a time, we can reach our true Dharma, and realize our true potential.

What if we do not absolutely know what our true purpose is right now? I would think it does not really matter, because life is a base, and there is a lot of potential. It could go anywhere, but it could only go if the energy flows. The energy cannot be stuck in the mind and be stagnant; it must flow. We should simply start where we are – even a desire that might be interpreted as simple or shallow can lead us to the heart’s desire. It might arise out of conditioning, but if we trust the practice and keep following the heart’s desire, it will take us to the essence of our being.

The best thing to me about Sankalpa is that we can live it day by day – and we only ever get to live one moment at a time, NOW! Sankalpa can be used before meditation, yoga, before and after a nights sleep, basically when we are in a deeply relaxed state. By repeating it daily, we also allow it to become a part of our being.

I find applying the technique of Sankalpa to my asana practice deeply satisfying, and I liken this to setting an intention before my practice. When we begin to understand what we are seeking from our practice, we can see how to direct energies and actions in order to get there. It also allows us to stay focused during our practice. In acknowledgment of our blocks and weaknesses in certain asanas, recognizing that through every practice we are taking a small step forward towards a bigger goal, and remaining kind to ourselves in the process, we are propelled closer to our goal. Intentions and sankalpas aren’t uttered once and then forgotten about. In yoga, during challenging poses, we can call forth our intention and allow it to power us through the posture. Just like in yoga, a sankalpa can be applied to power you through the challenges of life.

7 Wheels – Chakras, the Nervous System and TCM

My news feed today was swarmed with articles about “Ariana Grande’s misspelled Japanese tattoo (which) translates to ‘Barbecue Grill’ in Japanese”. Something about her tattoo caught my eye, but for another reason.

In Chinese, 七輪 (Traditional Chinese) translates to ‘7 Wheels’. Ring a bell?

Chakra, in Sanskrit, literally translates to wheel or disc. This is because the life force, also called chi, qi or prana, that moves inside of us is spinning and rotating. This spinning energy has 7 centers (wheels) in the body, starting at the base of the spine and moving all the way up to the top of the head. Each possessing its own color and vibrational frequency, these wheels are the catalysts of consciousness and human function. They govern various emotional issues, from our survival instincts and self-esteem to our ability to communicate and experience love.

I began my spiritual journey a few years ago seeking a deeper level of understanding of my true self, and one of the first topics that piqued my interest on this path of self growth is Chakras. Nonetheless, I could not see nor understand the connection of chakras to our physical body until Master Paalu and Sree mentioned in class that the locations of the 7 chakras correspond to the locations of our endocrine glands.

The Chakras are associated with the major nerve networks within the body, which connect from the brain/spine, via the major Vagus nerve, to the glands responsible for hormone production and the functioning of the body in general.

The Vagus nerve is considered the ‘holy grail’ of the nervous system and it mostly conveys sensory information about the state of the body’s organs to the Central Nervous System. Once it leaves the brain it winds its way down the body, and around the internal organs.

The vagus nerve has fibers that innervate virtually all of our internal organs. The management and processing of emotions happens via the vagal nerve between the heart, brain and gut, which is why we have a strong gut reaction to intense mental and emotional states.

By far, the most energetic processes within our bodies are caused by our nerve tissues and specifically our nervous system. The nervous system is that part of our body, that coordinates its voluntary and involuntary actions, and transmits signals to and from different parts of the body and brain. The communication of the body, if you will.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a form of alternative medicine that originated in ancient China, meridians are invisible energy pathways or channels that run through the body. Our vital life energy, or “qi”, is thought to flow along these meridians, and anything that disrupts the smooth flow of chi is said to cause illness. The Chinese term for meridian is “jing luo”. Most acupuncture and acupressure points lie on a meridian and stimulating these points using acupuncture needles, acupressure, moxibustion, or tuina (massage) is thought to help correct and rebalance the flow of energy. There are over 300 acupuncture points on the meridian system.

Looking at 3 vastly different methods of studies on the human body – Ayurvedic science, modern science, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, we can clearly see that they have connections and similarities to one another. As Master Paalu mentioned, physical problems are often the result of blockages in the energy flow in the body system causing the organs or glands to not function properly, and those blockages are often the result of our emotional states registering, and building up (repressed) instead of being released.

This is where our understanding of chakras come in handy. By understanding the essence of each chakra, we can bring awareness to which of our chakras are out of balance, and align them, allowing energy to flow freely. Anytime a chakra becomes blocked, underactive or overactive, it can throw us off balance physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

For instance, if you have ever experienced persistent trouble expressing yourself, felt like you’re walking around in an emotional “fog,” or suffered through several bouts of laryngitis or sore throats these are all signs you may have an imbalanced throat chakra. Generally speaking, when chakras are “off,” the body is excellent about communicating what ones are affected. When you consider all the signs you are experiencing, be they physical or not, odds are they’re centered around the area of the affected chakra.

Our bodies are in constant flux between balance and imbalance. Unless we have an apparent problem in one area of the body, imbalances can be difficult to detect. That being said, it’s good to bring awareness to our body/mind and start to learn its signals and clues, so that we can all be healthy and balanced.