As we prepare for our practice, we’re always asked to come to samastitihi with our hands held together at the centre of our chest and set our intention. Silence ensues and fellow yogis come together to find that certain ‘something’ to guide our practice; what we like to think of as our focus for the practice.
Now, your intention can be a literal word or descriptor, keeping you focused during your practice, or it can be as nebulous as a feeling, a colour or whisper of something that holds you in the present moment. We know this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to going deep into your practice but if you have no goal, there is no path; if there’s no path, there’s nothing to guide you along your journey and achieve the successes that you aim for.
This holds true for the moments you’re on your mat and translates all the way out into your daily life. This is all yoga; your practice is part of your life and so are your intentions. Your intentions can change for each practice or it can be a consistent feeling or word that holds you throughout a month or an entire year. An intention is something just for you; a little gift you give yourself in order to go deeper into your practice and figure out what makes you, you!
Here are a few ideas to help you set your intention, whether it be for a particular one-time practice or for the entire year:
- Start from a place of gratitude. What/who are you grateful for? What’s bringing you the warm fuzzies? Makes you light up? Gets you smiling? Think on that and hold onto it for one practice and discover if it’s worth holding onto for future sessions on your mat.
- Send out the good vibes. Can you dedicate your practice to someone who needs a little extra love and support? This is another great way to find an intention that resonates with you. Send out some support to a person in your life who needs a little extra love. Perhaps they’re struggling through a loss or feeling stuck in a rut. Sending out good vibrations to others is a strong way to set your practice and help a friend in need.
- Get out of your funk. Sometimes, we gravitate to yoga to cleanse away anything that no longer serves us. Think on what’s creating a bit of funk in your life; something that’s keeping you off your centre. Now think on a feeling that will help you get out of that rut. It could be a feeling of happiness, peace, love, warmth, you name it! Sometimes this can be a helpful process for your practice. Be patient if you’re using intentions to clear space in your body and mind and remember, cleansing can take time.
- Start small and be specific. Is there something you’re aiming for in 2017? Oftentimes thinking on how something/someone makes you feel is a great place to start from. Think on that feeling during your practice and discover how it vibrates through each posture. Thinking through a practice in this way can lead you down a breadcrumb trail that will help you clearly define an intention that you can use multiple times.
- Reflect. After your practice, reflect on how your intention guided you through each posture. Did it help you stay focused? Think about how you can refine your intention for your next practice and try again. Continue fine-tuning until you land on something that will bring you the guidance you need to go deeper into your practice and explore what happens in your body during each posture and during each practice.
Yes, your mind might wander during your practice but that’s ok. Just like in meditation, anytime your mind wanders from your point of focus kindly bring it back. Be patient with yourself and be patient in creating an intention that really resonates with you. With January off and running, we hope that setting your intention helps guide you through 2017 with light and grace, enabling you to really dig into what makes yoga a special part of your life that shines through every interaction and situation you are in. Happy exploring!