A powerful tool for our yoga practice and our daily life is intention. Intention is a course of action that one intends to follow, an aim that guides action. As we begin our yoga practice setting an intention can be a great guiding force of how we will practice on that specific day and how we will approach the rest of our day off the mat.
An intention is your true self`s desire to come into balance. When we quiet the mind and tune into our inner knowing our intention will surface. You can set your intention in many ways. An intention is in the present moment – what would help you cultivate more balance in this moment? An intention can be a word, a prayer, an affirmation, a quote, etc.
A simple way to set your intention at the beginning of your yoga practice or day:
- Sit on a chair with both feet on the ground or on your mat in a simple cross leg position with a straight spine, hands resting on your lap.
- Bring your attention to your breath, inhaling and exhaling deeply through the nose, eyes closed or open with a sliver of light coming in.
- Feel your ribs and belly expand with every inhale, the exhale lightly contract belly and ribs to help expel the air out of your lungs. Feel your attention shifting from your mind to your body.
- Bring your hands in front of your chest, press your palms together, thumbs press against the chest. Continue to breathe deeply feeling this expansion of your belly and ribs on inhale and on the exhale bring your attention to your heart center.
- Continue to breathe and to connect with your heart center, then ask yourself what is your intention? What would bring you the most balance at this moment?
As you do this it might be a word that comes up; compassion, relax, self-love. Whatever arises is perfect.
Turning your intention into an affirmation:
We can then use our intention as an affirmation in our yoga practice or day. For example: if the words that came up during your intention setting were compassion, self-love then perhaps the affirmation becomes:
-I love myself fully and have compassion for myself.
During your practice you can take moments to come back to your affirmation and notice what you need to continue doing or change in the way you are practicing to embody this intention. Perhaps you notice you are judging yourself in a certain pose and it`s making you become frustrated. You can then come back to your intention of loving yourself unconditionally and having compassion, when you reiterate this intention then you can let go of the judgement to maintain your equanimity. Continue to repeat the process throughout your practice and your day.
You are creating a new habit of embodying this intention and affirmation, the more you practice it and create this neural groove of compassion and self-love, the easier it will be to make this become your habitual way of approaching yourself in your life on and off the mat.
Jacynte Léger, Yoga Teacher & Wellness Coach
Jacynte is a Kundalini & Hatha yoga teacher specializing in the therapeutic application of yoga.