Setting an intention during a yoga practice is a popular approach to beginning a class and something I do frequently. But what does it really mean? Are you supposed to think of the word or feeling you picked at the beginning of class throughout your entire 75 minutes? What happens if you forget the intention? Should you use the one word the teacher says aloud, or choose your own?
An intention is simple and shouldn’t be stressful. If you forget throughout class, the teacher will gently guide you back to it by the end of practice. Its not something that needs to be consistent, but is really nice if you do remember to keep your theme while on your mat.
I often choose the word love, more specifically self-love or ahimsa, as my intention. No matter how many years I have been practicing, I still have days when I tug at my shirt to pull it down over my hips or internally curse myself for lack of balance. Immediately after doing so and oftentimes in the moment itself, I’ll catch my act or my unkind thought and transition to one of love. Balance comes with time, so I open my heart to love sweet love as frequently as I’m able.
Intention setting is easy. Here are 4 simple tips to help you out if you are new to intention setting.
1. MAKE IT SOMETHING SIMPLE
Mantras can be beautiful, but often they are spoken in Sanskrit or long passages that may resonate with you but have a lot of verbiage. Thinking of a mantra like “Lokha Samasta Sukinho Bhavantu” which means “May all beings be peaceful, happy and free” is a beautiful intention. However it may be easier to keep the word peace or peacefulness in your heart throughout practice. The intention of the mantra is there without thinking of all those ancient Sanskrit words during every chatarunga.
2. SET AN INTENTION OUTSIDE OF THE YOGA STUDIO
Intentions can be created throughout your day. During my pregnancy I was growing not only my beautiful baby boy, but also growing my yoga studio from infancy to toddler life as we stepped into our second year in business. My intention all year was health baby, healthy business. I changed a handful of passwords to reflect this mantra and often said it out loud at 11:11. An intention doesn’t just have to be something we think of on the mat. Try bringing it off the mat and into the world!
3. HONOR WHERE YOU ARE
A student of mine recently told me she keeps the intention of ahimsa during every class. Her path is a path of healing and at this moment, she needs to bring more love and less self-harming into her life. Honor where you are on the path. If you want to invite a soulmate into your life, use the word love. If you want to find a better job, use the words power, abundance or maybe even laughter! You get to decide what to invite into your practice and your life, so use the words that honor where you are right now.
4. ALWAYS FRAME IT IN THE POSITIVE
Whenever you’re thinking of an intention or manifesting something into your life, use positive words. The universe doesn’t hear the word NO so use an intention like happiness as opposed to “no longer depressed.” Always frame your intention in the positive and see your abundance manifest and grow.
Creating an intention can be so easy and beautiful. Find simple words, use them in your daily life and honor where you are! Change your thoughts to transform your life.