An intention is essentially bringing awareness to a quality, virtue or feeling you seek to create for yourself. Learning how to set an intention can be an empowering practice to cultivate better mindfulness habits. Intention-setting encourages you to focus on your mindset, rather than external factors. Mindfully practice these steps circling your intention to add more meaning to your next yoga class. With due diligence and practice, it will become second nature.
How To Pick An Intention
As soon as you sit on your mat, instantly let all outside thoughts float away. Now, it’s you and yoga; there’s no benefit in bringing in outside factors that won’t serve you. At the beginning of class, the precious moments of settling in and breathing provide you with rare silence to tune inwards. It’s a time to note how you feel, and what you’re craving. What may help you find deeper inner contentment and peace in that very moment?
There’s no right or wrong answer. Allow the intention to appear in your mind organically. Listen to your intuition. It can be a quality such as love, strength, forgiveness, light or gratitude. Maybe it’s a positive affirmation like, “I am balanced in my mind and body.” Another option is a virtue to serve your emotion, for example, self-love, discipline, creativity, trust or service. Think of your intuition like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes.
How To Utilize Your Intention
Oftentimes, students set an intention at the beginning of class and forget about it unless the instructor actively encourages them to reflect. But you are your own best teacher. When your mind wonders, actively focusing your mind back to your intention is a skill to enhance presence and patience. A skill to train your mind. Instead of resisting and reacting to a challenging pose, urge your mind back to your intention. Reflect on why you’re here and retrain your brain to think positively and effectively.
Take The Intention With You
Melt into savasana with your intention at the forefront of your mind but completely relinquish control. If you watch your mind like a movie screen, what do you see? Reflect personally on your intention. Watch thoughts project on the screen and watch them fade away. Why did your past self adopt this intention for you? Maybe it authentically served you, and you choose to take the intention with you for the rest of the day.
How you do one thing is how you do everything. Therefore, how you do yoga is how you do life. Setting a meaningful intention to cultivate a desired mindset trains you to change your frame of mind, and consequently change how you see reality. It teaches you that everything you need already lies within you. Most importantly, it shows you that you possess the power to change your mindset, change your outlook, change your mood. Yoga homes in on finding comfort in the discomfort, breathing through what you’re feeling and pursuing presence over everything. These mindfulness skills equip you to better handle life off the mat as well.
Photo by Lucas Pezeta.