You walk into a yoga class, you are settling into a comfortable seat, deepening your breath, concentrating inward and then your instructor says, “Take this time to set an intention for your practice.”
What? What is that?
There’s something to be said about being positive. Many people have been picking up on “The Law of Attraction,” trying to figure out what it is all about and how it can work for them. In yoga, we see the same kind of belief:
Life is not just about being optimistic but actively positive. Engaged.
I’m sure you hear the encouragement all the time in a yoga class: “Engage your thighs; keep your hands active, your gaze focused.” The common thread in these tips is a reminder for yogis to remain aware. This is how we create energy and fight off the urge to drift to sleep in restorative postures, staying awake enough to avoid injury and reap the benefits.
At work and at leisure, many of us spend a lot of time doing tasks without thinking: surfing the web, typing reports, listening to music. We live in a culture of escapism and yoga can be used to regroup—that’s why we have a centering in the beginning of the class. In this time we tune into concrete things like the Earth and the awareness of breath. It is a time for students to connect inward.
When we leave class we are reminded to stay active and positive in life. We move forward and we do so with purpose. As said before, it is important to do the prep work.
You don’t get better by doing nothing; you don’t get things done unless you give yourself to it, whole-heartedly.
“Giving it all you got.” That’s the kind of energy that can fuel you through a yoga class, through a day, or even a week. As much as we love the relaxation of Savasana (the one time in practice that we can disengage) we have to stay in touch with our minds; they are a powerful source in each one of us.
In every pose, the goal is to feel fully connected: between mind and body, movement and breath.
Even when simply standing tall in Tadasana/Mountain Pose: feet, legs, arms, shoulders, spine, hands, everything is engaged.
Similarly, we use meditation to stay engaged mentally, manifesting and projecting positive energy. Good things don’t always happen by chance, we have to play a conscious role in making good things happen. We have to create space, mentally, for good things to happen; that’s the importance of intentions.
Sometimes an intention is described as a wish or instead students are asked to make a dedication to someone. These are great ways to start thinking about and channeling positive thoughts, setting the tone for the rest of your day. A direct and simple approach is effective. It could be as simple as I will relax for the next hour or I will focus on my breath.
Intention is just that, doing something with purpose. Saying that it is something you ‘want’ may imply that you are lacking.
Don’t talk about what you hope to do or wish would happen but what will happen. Talk it into existence. Make the conscious decision to have it.
And if all else fails, be honest. Try not to skip intentions during practice. Whether you make a wish, think about your dog or an ice cream sundae, intentions are about thinking good thoughts. They are not about what is happening tomorrow or the horrible day you just had at work. And there’s no right way to do it. But understanding what it can do for you is good prep work.
Rekara Gage is a Professional Writing student and a Registered Yoga Instructor. Through both yoga and writing, she loves exploring new avenues and facing challenges that allow her to push boundaries and think creatively. Passionate about the work she does, on and off the mat, she is always open to connecting with people, eager to continue learning and growing. With a voice and style of her own, she hopes that yoga helps to unlock her potential as she hones her literary skills and shares her experiences with others.