Setting an intention when starting a yoga class is one way we can live a more mindful and intentional life. By setting an intention, we are starting to take our yoga “off the mat” and make our yoga practice one of mindfulness and not simply an exercise class.
The word intention is derived from the Latin intendere or intentio, which means both “stretching” and “purpose”. In essence then; if we are to live up to an intention we’ve set, we’re stretching ourselves beyond the place we’re currently at – possibly towards a different state of mind, a new action or a new way of feeling, or even a new life path.
By setting an intention, we actively choose to empower ourselves to make a change. Perhaps you want to be more present or mindful, or become better at letting go. Perhaps you want to cultivate balance and peace or health and wellness. Your intention can be anything that brings your soul peace, happiness, and joy. Even looking objectively at ourselves and asking ‘how am I?’ to begin with can be a transformational step, bringing attention to the present moment.
By building more awareness through steady and mindful practice, we may realize that an intention can be set at any moment of the day, not just in a yoga class. When you wake up in the morning, perhaps set an intention for the day, something that transcends all layers of being, and will work in all situations: gratitude, patience, compassion, courage, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, letting go, inner strength, cheerfulness, abundance or effort are all intentions that are often made, and can bring valuable focus to the day.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of setting intentions is detaching from the outcome – doing your best and letting go of the rest. We may not have control over others’ actions, or the world around us, but we can choose how we act and react to it. Once an intention is set, allow it to trickle through your day and throughout who you are, and notice the little changes that start to happen….
You can revisit your intention at any time throughout your practice, but be sure to come back to it at least once right at the end of your practice. In this way, you will carry it with you right from the beginning up to the moment you seal your practice with your heartfelt intention.