Do you set an intention for your yoga practice? When you begin each practice do you take the time to think about what is on your mind and heart and look to see if what is there is serving you or your loved ones?
When setting an intention it can be as simple as ” I will follow through with the practice uninterrupted.” Or ” I will address negative thoughts with graciousness and forgiveness as I work through today’s practice.” Why do we set an intention? It gives our practice meaning and focus. It allows us to look inward to find the answers to the questions we might be having, whether they be tangible or not. Intentions remind us of why we come to the yoga mat in the first place.
At first it might be purely physical and about the asana (poses). For example, I want to work on sculpting lean arms, or strong legs or strong core. However as we grow with our practice and come to evolve as yoga practitioners we come to the mat for more internal gratification and answers to our abstract questions. For example, “Today’s practice I want to be loving and foster self acceptance.” How each of us does this is completely personal however, with an intention for our practice we learn to take what we do on the mat deeper and do our sessions with more meaning and an open mind and heart. This allows us to become more connected to ourselves, our environment and those around us.
Today, I set an intention to be more gracious to myself by being patient and forgiving. If I come across something that is challenging for me, I need to be mindful of my inner voice . Low and behold it was a good thing that I set that intention because later on I was asked for the first time in a few years to figure out body fat % math by hand. (Anyone who knows me knows that math is not my strong suit) Almost instantly I started with the negative self talk. ” How can I not remember how to do this?” This is basic math, this not supposed to be hard. How could I be so dumb?” Not exactly very forgiving and gracious in terms of self talk and being kinder to myself. Then, I took a step back and reminded myself that it had been a while since I had to do the math without help from a chart. I took a deep breath and thought, what if it was a friend that was saying these things to herself? Would I have spoken to her the way I was speaking to myself? No. I would have been coaching her that she would eventually remember, and that she was not dumb. Eventually, I did remembered, and it did come back. Probably because I settled myself down and took that step back. I was able to get it all out on paper. I also found that chart as well to compare answers. Which by the way, done by hand, were correct and correlated to what the chart came up with.
Had I not practiced my yoga with the specific intention of kindness and graciousness towards myself, I can almost guarantee that I would not have taken that step back. I would not have taken a deep breath to just absorb what was happening at that moment. I probably would not even been of the mindset to say whoa, self talk check. I would have most definitely kept rambling, not even been aware that I was being so mean and hard on myself. I probably would not have been able to figure out how to find the answers that I was looking for. Fortunately that day’s practice put in my path challenging poses that I had to face with a kinder inner voice. It was not easy. It was not immediate, actually the first thing out of my mouth was , I am so weak, I am so bad at yoga. I had to be on and watching with vigilant eyes and ears to see what triggered those thoughts and hear the negativity in my voice and then use my concentration and the side of my brain that knew better to switch over and start releasing positive self thoughts. I am consistent. I am persistent. I am strong. I can, and I will!
I know that it is a journey, but one that I feel is very important for growing as a person, yoga teacher and yoga practitioner. The lessons learned today were invaluable to learning and creating a positive and more abundant lifestyle. I encourage you to do the same. When you find yourself generating negative energy towards yourself or a situation that you are in, take a step back. It will take time as you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Each opportunity that is presented is a chance to become more introspective and think about how we choose to spend and spread our energy. Yoga gives us that opportunity every time we step on the mat by setting an intention. Every time you situate yourself for your yoga practice take a moment to reflect on your day, your week, your year, your life and be more aware of the subconscious thoughts that find ways of permeating into our day that might cause us to react negatively. Setting an intention helps us to focus and gives our practice purpose. It gives us a chance to learn to be more active rather than reactive. These planned and practiced opportunities give us a chance to make a choice to be more positive and see things in a more abundant light when we are off the mat and moving about our day to day life.