Changing your samskaras, or patterns, is not an accidental process, a formula we stumble upon without meaning to. In the struggle to create healthier samskaras, sankalpa (intention) is what mythologist Joseph Campbell termed a "call to awakening." Sankalpa unites our mind with those deeper parts of ourselves that can be so hard to access. Conscious use of sankalpa is a compelling way of communicating what we want to our emotional and spiritual bodies.
At the beginning of my yoga classes, before chanting Om, call to mind an intention for your practice. The intention can be nonviolence, awareness of the breath, or something more personal. Whatever form the intention takes, setting it consciously before beginning to practice galvanizes our inner resources and aligns them with the energy of change. Sankalpa acts as a guiding sutra, or "thread," that we weave throughout our yoga practice, on and off the mat. Yet we still need more steam to take us full-course.