photo credit to: http://theroguehealer.com/2013/04/08/intention-and-intent-the-healers-mind/

If you’ve been to a yoga class of any kind, it is highly possible that the teacher asked you to set an intention for your practice. Why? How does it help a yoga practice? Why even set an intention in the first place?

*warning – I will be using the word “intention” a lot in this blog post – so bear with me!

So yoga is wholly meant to be practiced with mindfulness and THAT is what an intention helps us achieve. Associating a meaning or purpose to each of our postures as we go through the motions in a yoga class, helps us to cultivate that mindfulness.

For example:

“I will do a headstand without the wall today” – is NOT an intention.

However something like: “I will do my best to be present in the moment” or “I will be nice to myself today in this yoga class” IS one.

The former is not an intention because it is focusing on an outcome of sorts. Setting an intention in a yoga class is meant to attach value to something that matters to you now that goes beyond anything physical.

So how does it help a yoga practice?

When I typically practice on my own or go to a yoga class, especially in the beginning – the chatter in my brain sounds something like this…

Hm – I should get a shirt like hers. I hope I don’t fart today. Oh crap – I forgot to pay this bill. My knees hurt in this mat – I need a new yoga mat. Why are certain yoga mats so expensive? God – this sucks. They are turning yoga into some high end business – it’ supposed to be about ..”  etc etc. You get the gist.

However – when I set an intention – I slowly start to focus. Even if my brain wanders (which it inevitably does) I am reminded of my intention and slowly make my way back.

Aside from bringing your mind some focus during a yoga practice – my favorite part about having an intention is that it’s something you can take it with you as you roll up your yoga mat and head off into the crazy, busy life you lead.

Think about it. If your intention during practice had been something like “I will be grateful today for what I am able to do” then don’t you think that in some small way, this thought will continue to stay with you for a while? Our lives are all multi-faceted, complex and we have a million things going on at the same time. One thought that you set in a yoga class may not last long. BUT – it might still linger for an hour after class. Maybe you stay grateful for small things in your life as you drive away from a yoga class such as your car, or being able to drive, or no traffic as you head home, or just being able to afford a yoga class. See? Even those few moments where you stay with your intention MATTERS. It’s progress. It’s progress towards becoming mindful and leading a more thoughtful life.

THAT is why I love setting an intention and asking my students to join with me and set one too. It’s like planting seeds of good thoughts in your brain.

Back in the day, the masters of yoga lived and breathed the principles of awareness, compassion, mindfulness, devotion to a higher power, discipline, and all other things that yoga represented and stood for. We live in a different day and age – and we might not be able to live that kind of lifestyle. But one thing we can learn for SURE is that yoga translates into something way more meaningful OFF the mat and something as small as setting an intention, helps us move in that direction.

IF you have gotten this far down the post – THANK you and I love you.

Thanks so much for reading!



You may also like

The Evolution of my yoga teaching : Part 2
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What is your “Mindful Reminder”?
Evolution of my teaching

4 Responses

  1. Interestingly enough, setting intentions is reflected in one of those end-of-year articles that re-posted (a lot) on Facebook recently (http://jamesclear.com/goals-systems). The article ties in the idea of setting an intention (or a system) to our lives off the mat and supports the idea that the journey is more important than the end. And, it also seems to reflect the idea that if we carefully craft our journey, we will meet with a successful end. The quote, “when you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time”, sums up the idea really well.

    Also – how do you think about sharing your intentions? A lot of people say sharing goals helps clarify your goals and keeps you accountable. Would it work the same way for intentions or do you see setting intentions as a way to develop your internal discipline?

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