Setting an Intention for Your Yoga Practice

Leaf GrowingCreative Commons License photo credit: Navin Thakur

At the beginning of yoga class or at the start of our own personal practice, we sometimes set an intention or dedicate the practice to something or someone special. Setting an intention acts like a contract between the universe and ourselves. Not a contract in the sense that we have to do things a certain way, more that we plan to devote this time to being a certain way.

Setting an Intention

Start by taking the first 2 minutes of your practice to quietly focus on your mind, breath and body. Set your intention in your mind by first scanning the myriad of thoughts that are there right now. Search those thoughts for the one that is meaningful to you today. Ask yourself, “How am I going to be in this practice?”

Set your intention with your breath. Consciously breathe in then slowly breathe out. Follow your breath, letting your thoughts flow and ride the breath.

Set your intention with your body. Acknowledge the gift of your health and your ability to move around and be in this physical world. Bring your intention into focus by aligning your body, breath and thoughts.

Setting an intention helps to bring clarity to your practice. It is also motivating to have a clear focus. It gives your yoga practice another layer of meaning.

In his book, Turn Stress into Bliss, Michael Lee suggests asking yourself, “What is it I am hoping to create in my life by doing this practice today?” Perhaps it is wellness, a sense of peace or acceptance, or maybe you would like to dedicate your practice to someone else who could use the energy.

Don’t confuse your intention with trying to attain a specific goal. There is a difference. Phillip Moffat explains it eloquently in his article for Yoga Journal:

“Setting intention, at least according to Buddhist teachings, is quite different than goal making. It is not oriented toward a future outcome. Instead, it is a path or practice that is focused on how you are being in the present moment”

Once you have finished your asana, consider carrying the intention with you into your day, expanding your yoga practice to other aspects of your life. How would you like to be today?

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