"She stepped into a yoga studio for the first time, rolled out her mat, and found her comfortable seated position.
As soon as she settled, the instructor invited the class to close their eyes and set an intention.
Anxiety immediately filled her. She didn’t realize that she would have to think this much in a yoga class.
And before she could even calm her mind from the traffic she fought through to get there, the class had moved on from this intention setting time."
The idea of setting an intention is overwhelming, and often unexpected. While it is a regular practice you will find in many yoga studios, it is one of many unspoken, and often unexplained, nuances that happen in the yoga community.
Demystifying the practice of setting intentions will not only prevent the above scenario, but will also give you focus on your mat and confidence to step into your highest self off the mat.
Deepak Chopra says, "Intention is the starting point of every dream."
It is the seed within the mind that fuels the actions you take to step in the direction of those dreams.
Everything you do is fueled by intention, whether you know it or not. It is just a matter of whether you are choosing to direct your intention, or to allow it to be directed by outside influences.
In yoga, an intention is a dynamic phrase that reminds you of your inner truth and, if desired, guides you towards change.
These powerful intentions, also sometimes called mantras or affirmations, are focusing tools that can bring you back to a clear state of mind. They aid in concentration and can be continual reminders of what it is you are aiming towards.
In a world with so much stimulation, these reminders can be invaluable in allowing your mind to stay centered. If you struggle with following through with the things you want to do, or even just to find courage to face your day-to-day life, setting an intention will be a beneficial practice to continually bring you back to what matters most to you.
When setting an intention, it is helpful to take time to quiet the mind.
Before finding your intention, allow your mind to calm and your awareness to drift inwards.
You can do this by finding some full breaths and tuning into your physical sensations. Allow yourself to observe what is happening in your body and mind without being attached to these thoughts or feelings.
Once you have found some grounding, begin to ask yourself what intention you would like to work with for this practice.
Keep it simple.
Your intention should be a short and positive statement that speaks of what you’re desiring as if you already have it.
Instead of saying “I wish I had more joy,” or “I am not sad,” your intention could be “I am joyful,” or, “I am choosing joy.”
As you are speaking your intention, allow it to not be about the words, but the feeling(s) you are desiring. If your intention is “I am joyful,” use your imagination to visualize what it would feel like to be joyful.
Get creative. Use your imagination. Remember, often the times when you drop the analytical mind and just allow yourself to feel is when you find the greatest inspiration.
The options on how to use an intention are limitless. You can set one at the beginning of your yoga practice, but are not limited to just this space. Many find it useful to set intentions for their days, months, years, specific activities, and so on.
Come back to this intention often, bringing your awareness into your breath while you visualize those feelings you desire.
I am feeling healthy and strong.
I am love.
I am happy with my life.
I am embracing play.
I am grounded.
I am enough.
I am choosing ease.
The more intention-based your life becomes, the more you will desire intentions for other areas.
Keep in mind this is not a magic bullet to make life perfect. It is simply a tool to help you focused on what matters to you in life.
The beautiful thing is that you take more steps of action towards your dreams when you have intentional clarity on how you want to feel. This clarity helps you create a life that feels good to you.
As with most things, it’s trial and error to see what and how intentions work best for you.
Get creative. Let it be messy. Use your imagination. Remember, the times when you drop the analytical mind and just allow yourself to feel are often when you find the greatest inspiration.
So, don’t overthink this.
Fill your heart with the intentions that guide you towards your best life.
Then, at the end of the day, remind yourself that you are doing your best and that is enough.