"Every goal we hold is in the hope that we will FEEL a certain way when we arrive there; and for many of us we aspire to reach a place of joy, love, freedom, and ease."
At A Dancing Yogi, we encourage you to set an intention to carry with you for your yoga practice. Setting an intention can be daunting or seem a little strange at first. But, like most things in yoga, you can't really do it wrong & it's worth trying out!
The action of setting intentions is one of the best ways you can keep yourself on course to meeting goals and achieving the level of happiness you desire. Intentions provide you with the focus needed to progress towards what you want to achieve, some may refer to it as manifestation.
What is an intention?
An intention is a quality that you want to carry with you for the duration of your practice- and maybe beyond, taking it off your mat with you too. The Sanskrit word for intention is Sankalpa. Kalpa means vow and San means a connection with our highest truth. A Sankalpa, then, is a promise that we make to support our highest truth. Any intention we set should be something that really rings true for us personally- not just something we think we should do.
Setting an intention for your yoga practice is simply bringing your attention to a quality that you would like to emulate for your time on - and off - the mat. That quality could be gratitude, strength, awareness of breath- whatever you want to cultivate.
Goals versus Intentions: If we think of our goals as our "what," then our intentions are our "why."
Why do we set intentions in yoga?
Intention setting takes yoga beyond just a physical practice, and it brings it off your yoga mat and into your life. It's sort of like a mini New Year's resolution that we get to make every time we come to the mat.
Setting intentions is powerful because not only do we focus on it during yoga practice, but our minds will often continue to be drawn to it outside of class. It can be nice to work with the same intention for a while until you feel you really are embodying the qualities, or choose something new every week based on where you are at and what you need.
How to set an intention
First, just focus on your breath and the beating of your heart. Let the rest of your day melt away as you come back to yourself. Turning your awareness inward, meditate on what really matters to you. Bring your awareness to a virtue that you would like to embody. It can be anything you like. Be careful of your wording and try to keep it positive- for example instead of saying "I won't take my body for granted," say "I am grateful and full of love for my beautiful, healthy body."
You can draw your intention back to your mind at any point during your practice, especially when things get challenging. Focusing on your intention of strength or gratitude during boat pose, or self-love, when you're staring at your tummy in a shoulder stand helps make the posture feel easier and gives it meaning beyond the physical.
During intention setting, it can also be an opportunity to release any negative feelings, thoughts, or emotions, before intentionally focusing on the positive.
Take a moment to reflect upon the goal that excites you most right now or that you need the most. What is the feeling that you hope this goal will inevitably bring you? THIS is the thing you are trying to manifest, your intention, your "why." Working with intention not only invites that feeling into the present moment but your goal in, too.
By bringing awareness to our intentions we can craft them more lovingly...
Benefits to Setting Intentions
Overcome obstacles and continue to make progress every day. It is a gentle yet effective reminder that you have a higher purpose and that the things you do and say can help you get there. Intentions that are tied to your greatest goals will help you live a life of intention and gratitude.
Clear intentions make us more likely to achieve our goals. Intention setting is a way of bringing the emotions we want to feel into our present reality. Rather than something far-off in the future, our goals become deeply felt in our bodies. They become something familiar and fathomable; a truth that our subconscious mind starts to treat as fact rather than fiction.
Loving intentions melt away doubt and self-doubt. Reviewing our intentions helps us to ensure that they are loving in nature. We require far less convincing of our intention because we've chosen intentions that are heartfelt and true. When we set goals in the hope they will "fix" us or allow us to feel "enough," we will likely struggle to reach them. We sense that they are built on mistruth. Our body always knows when our goals and intentions are fear-based, so we will either struggle to achieve them or feel unfulfilled when we do. Being clear on our intentions ensures that both our heart and mind are in agreement with what we are calling into our life. When we form our goals with love and truth, we don't need to call on self-control or willpower because it will be our natural inclination to pursue them wholeheartedly.
Erase preconceived notions of limitation. We have a tendency to not believe in ourselves, to see our limitations, and to settle for what we think we deserve. While none of these things are true, daily intentions allow you to verbalize and focus on your abilities rather than your doubts.
A focus on intention keeps us grounded in the present moment. Intentions bring our desires to the present moment, so they invite us to be more mindful. They encourage us to feel a continual sense of gratitude and accomplishment, rather than focusing solely on our end goal. If your goal is to meditate every day for a year, your true intention might be to simply experience greater peace in your daily life.
Improved focus on what's important. Intentions set a tone of positivity. They are not about the past but rather they focus on what is to come. They help you voice what you intend to focus on during the day, and by repeating your daily intentions, you are giving yourself permission to focus on these things rather than the obstacles and negativity you may face.
Positive intentions lead to a positive attitude. Our subconscious minds will always believe what we tell them, so if we infuse our intentions with positive, encouraging emotions, chances are we will begin to experience them! We can do this every day on and off the mat, to help us move more graciously through life's inevitable challenges. Maybe you are having an overwhelming day, rather than focusing on a goal of completion, focus on working mindfully and patiently, and allow this to transform how you feel about the task at hand.
You live with intent. You are acting in ways to achieve something higher each and every day, even if it means you only take small steps. Setting intentions gives you the ability to focus on more positive things around you and the small things that contribute to your happiness.
Intentions you can set
The intentions you choose are deeply personal. They can be ANYTHING you want as long as they resonate deeply with you and your vision for your future.
If you are looking for inspiration, consider:
I intend to:
- Be positive in all my interactions.
- Take care of my body.
- Be productive in my work.
- Accept what life brings me each day.
- Be open to new experiences.
- Be kind to myself.
- Be kind to others.
- Act with gratitude.
- Love myself.
- Be present in my daily life.
- Be gentle with myself.
By focusing on your intentions, you will find that you are more open to what life brings you, more positive, and more focused. These benefits will allow you to get closer to your goals no matter what they may be.