Recently, at the beginning of a class I was asked to close my eyes and set an intention for the upcoming session. At this stage, I was wondering, “What have I got myself into?” – this wasn’t new to me but I wasn’t attending a yoga class – I was attending an all day workshop at the Idea World Fitness Convention.
Later I reflected on my thought process and questioned my reaction. Why was I so surprised? The speaker was simply asking me to be clear on what I wanted to gain from the programme. It was a very powerful invitation; I answered honestly and as a result had a clear purpose for the session (which was to gain specific knowledge on functional ageing). It allowed me to stay focussed during the day, instead of thinking about how cold it was in the meeting hall (it was really cold), my next meal or what the weather was like outside. The reality was that these things were irrelevant in that moment.
Since then I have started setting an intention for the day and more specifically for more of my meetings: what is the purpose of the meeting I am hosting; what am I looking to get out of a meeting I am invited to; what nuggets can I get out of an interaction? Setting an intention clears away the confusion that can reign in our minds for much of the day. As a result I have found myself being more productive and focussing on the things I need to do.
Setting an Intention on the Mat
If you want to start working with an intention in your practice then you first want to take a look at what it is that you are hoping your practice will help you achieve. Why are you doing yoga; what brought you to class; is it to find more balance and peace; encourage more wellness; build more strength and flexibility or maybe it’s something else?
Take a moment right now if you haven’t really thought about it and try to answer this question for yourself. Why are you doing yoga? Why do you go to class?
To create your intention, think of a statement that reflects the change you want to make in your life or where you want to go. Make sure to word it in the positive tense as if you’ve already made this change in your life; as if you’ve already reached your destination. Your intention could be something as simple as ‘I am living a balanced life’, or, ‘I am in balance’. Make sure your statement is simple and something you can easily repeat.
If you aren’t interested in setting a personal intention, your teacher will often encourage you to dedicate your practice to someone else who may need it more than you do. This is a way to increase the positive flow of energy. Occasionally I have been challenged to devote a class to someone that I don’t particularly care for, which is an interesting experience that has really stuck with me.
What is special about dedicating a practice to someone is that the practice becomes more than just about you. It becomes about this person and in becoming about that person, it becomes about the larger community. And community is integral to practice at Inspire.
Recently it was Father’s day so I decided I would dedicate my practice to my father. Doing so reminded me of all his wisdom, his nuggets of advice, like “do your best, that’s all I can ask for.” The interesting thing here is that my father, passed away over a decade ago but I still think of him every day and by dedicating the practice, I felt closer to him.
So, give it a go, set an intention or dedicate your practice to someone else. You will be amazed at the difference!
See you on the mat,