On Wednesday, I listed the Top Ten things I have learned since beginning my Yoga Tune Up Teaching Journey.

I’m a movement educator, not a mathematician.  So, here’s No. 11 in my Top Ten List:

11. Sankalpas are super. One of the greatest things I learned from YTU doesn’t have to do with movement at all.  I learned to create a sankalpa.  It’s sort of a mantra but not really.  More than an intention, it’s a go to statement that keeps you honest and focused on a goal or place that you need to heal, be it body or mind.  It’s not the path that gets you there but the flashlight that guides you.  There’s a great system to create a magnificent sankalpa that you learn in the Level 1 Teacher Training Certification.

One of my sankalpas last year was, “It’s okay to say yes, and it’s okay to say no.”  Learning to say both of these words when it’s right for me was very powerful.

Two additional sankalpas that I learned and share with my classes are:  I am a student of my body.  I am a student of my breath.  Whether you want to be a teacher or have no intention of teaching ever, learning about your body and your breath is so powerful.  Tuned up.  Tuned in.  Yoga Tune Up®.

One day I’ll write a top 100 list of the things I’ve learned in Yoga Tune Up®.  I’m grateful and appreciative of the learning that has taken place and continues to take place with my fellow teachers/mentors.

I look forward to seeing you on the mat.  NamasTerry.

Enjoyed this article? Read Sankalpa: Your Inner Resolve

Terry Littlefield

Terry Littlefield, RYT-500, Integrated Yoga Tune Up® teacher, and long-time practitioner, is a passionate educator with a big sense of humor and an even bigger heart. Her classes are a blend of science and spirit, breath work and ball work (Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls, of course), movement and meditation. If you want to have fun and experience safe, functional movement within your yoga practice, she’s your yogi.

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Christine (CJ) Lamborn

For years, I’ve opened class with breathwork followed by Sankalpa and I occasionally return to intentions in closing. Since YTU training, I am really feeling their power. We have the opportunity to restate throughout a single practice. I feel an immediate shift of energy and a return to ground, a return to me. I can’t wait to bring this back to my students and see what grows.


Day 1 of YTU training was super nerve racking and it helped so much that Jill started off the day with thoughtfulness on the sankulpa.

It helped me to calm down and remember why I was there in the first place. And as soon I felt myself get overwhelmed throughout the training my sankulpa was my anchor.

What a unique aspect of an intense experience. I have never really been to a training where this is emphasized and what a difference it makes.

My sankulpa is now always with me, wherever I go, whatever I must face.


“It’s not the path that gets you there but the flashlight that guides you.” Love this metaphor! I also look forward to reading your Top 100, Terry! I learned so much from the YTU Level 1 Teacher Training but the best part is that the learning is never over.


I love listening to (and reading about!) the experiences that others have had with Salkalpa. I’ve even enjoyed the comments on this post! Looking forward to your Top 100, Terry!

Tessa Watson

I believe that crafting sankalpa is going to be a fundamentally life changing practice. As I sat in class staring at the questions offered I knew I wanted to sit with them for a long time and let them sink in, unfortunately there isn’t time for that in training and given time and practice this will make a huge difference for my own practice and I hope to bring better awareness to my own students. Thank you.


I finished my level 1 a couple of weeks ago (yup…I’m doing blog homework!) and I was actually surprised at how big an impact the sankalpa was and continues to be. My 200h YTT was very heavy on philosophy, etc…everything to do with the spiritual side of the practice. So, I didn’t come to YTU for that. I just wanted to nerd out about the body! But I found the focus on sankalpa brought an unexpected (for me) dimension to the training that has carried over into my day-to-day life. I can see and feel an integration between my movement… Read more »

Katie Rutterer

Day 4 of the training, and my Sankulpa has changed everyday! I know that either I will leave with several to ponder, or I they will all mash into one at the end. Either way, it’s been a great focus and reminder throughout this process.


I’m currently in the YTU Level 1 program and was just reintroduced to the creation of sankalpas. During my 200 hour training, I had a few instructors that had us formulate them, but none of them really stuck for very long. I love that we are constantly reminded of the general class sankalpas, as well as the one we created. I believe that the ones we recite this week will definitely stick. 🙂

Pascale hazledine

I am on my last day of level one certification and my sankalpa has saved me!without it i don’t think i. would have made it.thequestions we had to answer the first morning brought my life to clarity.i will use it to guide me. I look forward to reading your 100 things you learned in yoga tuneup.


Terry, I think multiple sankalpas are necessary. Just like every practice doesn’t look the same, why would we expect our thoughts or intentions to be the same?
Sometimes I need something to boost my mood or encourage me, other times I feel like I want to “send” that encouragement to everyone else in the room.
Great post, thanks

Kayla Lee

I agree, the Sankalpa has really had a huge impact on me. I am happy to hear that you have more than one. I too have more than one and was questioning whether that was O.K. The underlying sankalpa is about feeling. Whether that be feeling my body, my emotions during my practice, feeling joy, hurt or vulnerability in relationships, or eating with the intention to FEEL physically and emotionally healthy.

Karen Stillman

The Sankalpa is a wonderful tool, and I am grateful it was mentioned in my YTT (done in India), so I am familiar with it now as I start my YTU teacher training. It would be wonderful if North American YTT included it. It helps me to grow, share, and be better at what I do.


I haven’t really considered why the buttocks are ‘the way they are’ on humans, so this was a great read. When I have a grouchy ‘something’ in my body, my first inclination is to just grab the therapy balls and roll – reading about the impact on tissue is a road I have just started to go down – I want all of my tissues to be fluffy and strong!


I’m in the level one training now and I think this is the first time I have ever really used a sankalpa. It definitely helps to keep you on your path. So glad this is part of the training.


I have just recently completed my in class training for Yoga Tune Up level 1 and one my Sankapla was I’m a student on my own body meaning that I’m always taking self care and I’m continuously learning of where my blind spots are before I start rolling with my Yoga Tune Up balls and I’m also learning to be aware of what’s sore, and what needs to be worked on for healing processes.


I agree, its one of the best things about this work. I like the emphasis on having a Sankalpa. Bringing it into my practice as well as sharing it with my students. Jill does a great job in incorporating east and west.


Sankalpas are back in my life. It is unfortunate how the busy activities of life allow us to let go of the things that matter. I will have to be mindful to maintain my sankalpas. Today it was “I have time for myself. “


I am one who thought rolling and being able to use the balls would be the most beneficial part of the YTU Level 1 teachers training, however on day 1, we wrote our sankalpa. Mine is to “Live present each day with powerful positive thoughts”. Im starting to realize theres more to this training then self massage. 🙂


Today I was writing about my experience with adding sankalpa to my life, and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I would almost argue this could be at the top of your Top 10 list. Approaching life with intention, and a simple always available phrase to remind you to do so, is creating a tectonic shift in my life, and has lead to volumes of self awareness.

Austin Way

Sankalpa is super new to me and has a huge impact in my daily practice and in all aspects of my life. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Level 1 Yoga Tune Up Teacher Training and discover my sankalpa!!

James Chritton

I agree, its one of the best things about this work. I like the emphasis on having a Sankalpa. Bringing it into my practice as well as sharing it with my students. Jill does a great job in incorporating east and west.

Anna simpson

Thank you


Thank you! I have recently experienced the power of Sankalpas during a Yoga Nidra class. I love the idea of setting a goal during the beginning of class to focus on. Since the class is so quiet and relaxing I found that the goal was coming from my deepest desires since it really resonated with me. Now I try to meditate on the goal for a few moments in the morning when I am brushing my teeth or in the shower.


Interesting parallel on learning about yourself, your body and your breathe from yoga tune up. I liked the comparison to the mantra and blinking light to guide you on your path. I feel aligned to the mantra, “it ok to say yes, its ok to say no” to strengthen your own inner integrity.


being a *STUDENT OF MY BODY* was the best part of Yoga Tune Up weekend! I recently discovered Sankulpas as well and love the fact that they are an *I AM* statement! Not: I WANT, or I MIGHT, or I WILL sometime in the future, but instead a strong declaration of your intention to BE RIGHT NOW! this blog post is a great reminder that i need a sankulpa for TODAY!

Annaliese Godderz

Creating a sankalpa can be incredibly powerful for personal growth. I think it’s incredible that we start training by designing our own sankalpa and it is something we are reminded to come back to before we teach. One thing I found really helpful when writing my New Year’s sankalpa was that it should be something you think about for a while, chew through and then as you put pen to paper you pick whatever the first words are that come to mind. Simpler the better. This is hard to do when you’ve spent time writing out the perfect sankalpa. But… Read more »


Thanks Terry, I could not agree more. It’s interesting how the formulation of a Sankalpa can be more challenging than one would think, as it’s not a wish, but a statement which reflects your deepest desire or “longing.” I found it inspiring that Level 1 training starts on day one with using the formulation of Sankapla through directed questions to support you identifying what that is (and sometimes its surprising!) and then integrating it into your teaching. What a wonderful way to connect physical and mindfulness practices having a focus on manifesting your true heart/soul desire by placing Sankalpa front… Read more »

Diana duncan

Sankalpa is so new to me and so simple. I love the idea of using this tool in my daily life.

Anne-Renée Hudon

Je réalise que je ne fais pas asser de choses uniquement pour moi.
Nouvelle intention.

Camille Corrivault-Gascon

Wow, j’aime vraiment l’approche de Yoga Tune up sur l’impact de notre pensée. Ça fait tellement du bien de ce répéter ces phrases positives qui viennent nous motiver dans notre vie. Les pensées négatives ne sont pas nécessaires et nous avons le pouvoir de les éliminer dans notre quotidien. Le sankalpas dans cette article “It’s okay to say yes, and it’s okay to say no“ fait beaucoup de sens dans ma vie présentement, merci!

Emily Lunoe

Thank you for this! I am taking my yoga teacher 200hr training. I also was able to take a yoga tune up anatomy training workshop where I heard repeatedly “I am a student of my body”. I have called on these words when I need to find grace for myself or inspiration to put in after hours work for my training. This is a wonderful sankalpa to repeat for a growth mindset.


The Yoga Tune Up® universal Sankalpa of “I am a student of my body. I am study my students. I am a student of my teaching.” really encapsulates for me in a very clear way the great responsibility of being a teacher. I may have gotten the order of the 3 commandments wrong but the spirit is awesome. Greatest training ever. Highly, highly recommended for anyone and everyone!!!


I too was first exposed to the idea of sankalpa in Level 1 Training. The template we learned for creating our own sankalpa was so honest and applicable I was shocked how it seemed that my sankalpa was jumping out at me, as I have often struggled to maintain or receive benefit from manta’s. I can’t tell you how many times both during the training and after I have relied on my sankalpa.

Bonnie Chiong

The first time I was introduced to the idea of Sankalpa was in the Level 1 training. At first it seemed like a mix between intention and mantra. No biggie. But upon deeper exploration, I realized there was much more depth to it. If you allow yourself to inquire, the sankalpa will mirror the heart’s deepest desire. “It’s not the path that gets you there but the flashlight that guides you.” Love this! Thank you for sharing

Sue Paterson

I have to agree! I have never had a (conscious) sankalpa, and found the creation and use of one a powerful tool in Level One training… when it was easy to forget to breathe! I could not believe how quickly one sprang to mind in the short, focussed time we had available for its creation. I still need lots of work, but have found my sankalpa popping into my mind at helpful times, and bringing a little confident smile to my face. I never thought I was the ‘sankalpa’-sort of gal (is there a type?) – so there you go.… Read more »

Alisa Fairbanks

This was a huge takeaway for me too, and is something I will continue to use as I move forward. I just finished the level 1 training two days ago, and am still buzzing from all the amazingness! I look forward to your top 100 things list in the near future.