Setting an Intention is like drawing an arrow from the quiver of your heart. ~ Bruce Black
If you have ever been to my class, you know that I begin each class by asking you to ponder “Why did I come here today?” or “What was I hoping to receive?” Easy enough, you answer. “I came to stretch” or “I came to get rid of my neck (or back or hip) pain”, etc. But then it gets hard because I ask you to place a word or thought phrase on that desire. Now I may have lost you.
What I am asking you to do is set your Intention.
But what is an intention? It is not the same as a goal, but it may start with a goal. For instance, you can transform the goal of getting a good stretch into an intention by concentrating on “flexibility of mind and body” or “I let go of all that holds me back” or simply “I am open”. “I came to get rid of my pain” can become “I will release all that does not serve me” or simply “Freedom” or “I can break through my barriers”. By evolving your goals in this way, you are not limiting yourself to physical release, you are telling your higher consciousness that you are open to receive more from the class (and life) than just what is expected. You are accepting that you have many interwoven layers to YOU even if you are experiencing only the physical one in this moment. The words you speak to yourself in a quiet mind will permeate throughout the layers, especially when repeated.
There are other benefits to setting intentions instead of goals. This process helps you to identify the barriers you have to living this intention off the mat. You may need a stretch because you have overdone your workouts, forgotten to stretch before your run or because you have osteoarthritis. Maybe you simply were blessed with a relatively inflexible body. But what are the barriers to a flexible mind? What is keeping you from moving deeper into a project or goal? – is it emotional holding? Now, the possibilities really begin all because you took less than 3 minutes to turn inward and ask “What do I desire more of in my life?” and “Why don’t I already have it?” You can fail at a goal but you can never fail at an intention – you simply repeat until you are able to move on or find a more needed intention.
It is good to start with the physical goals because they are more accessible to you but as you practice yoga regularly you learn to check in with yourself after class and notice how you feel – what you got out of the class that wasn’t expected or anticipated. If you like that feeling – name it! You can use this as your intention next time.
Start NOW. Take your time and see if you can transform a physical goal into an intention or take one of the ones I have offered. Now close your eyes. Take 1-2 minutes to repeat this intention to yourself as you breathe in and 2-3 minutes to identify any barriers you know of to living this intention speaking them to yourself as you exhale. You are now moving yourself forward in a positive way.