I've been thinking about New Year's resolutions and pondering on why I never feel drawn to creating one. It often feels like a set up for failure, like trying to take a leap rather than a single step. What resonates more clearly for me is the idea of an intention. Intention is a single step on the longer journey and gives room for change to happen over time, activating the body/mind connection and solidifying the changes we wish to manifest. I think of intentions as setting the stage for small successes to keep growing and developing, expressing our internal compass for gratitude and forgiveness of ourselves and others.
Intentions are a vehicle for small daily triumphs that build self esteem and a sense of personal power. They ground us in the moment and provide a presence that is both intuitive and physical. They remind us of what's important and can be tweaked in any given moment to guide us in the right direction. They speak to what our heart is seeking in finding and experiencing meaning in our lives.
There is no set way to create an intention. A key word or phrase, a poem or a quote may be what inspires you. Whatever you choose, keep it framed in the positive as a way to treat yourself with love and respect. And let it speak to your aspirations and how to find balance in your life, rather than addressing material comforts.
I often pick a medicine card to jump start an intention or sit quietly in meditation to tune into the quiet voice within; the voice that knows what my heart needs most. I bring it with me in thought or written down so I can check in with it during the day.
In yoga classes, I often suggest setting an intention at the beginning and then checking in regularly as the class progresses. This becomes a focal point and allows for a deeper connection to the self on a body/mind level. Intentions connect personal values to our actions, allowing for greater self acceptance and awareness. Some examples of intentions for yoga might include: “I listen and respect my body's capabilities.” “I remember to breathe in uijayi to deepen my practice.” “I stay present in each moment, allowing my mind to be still.” “My mind and body are connected in strength and presence in each moment.”
Beyond the yoga mat, intentions bring value to all aspects of life. Thoughtful intentions can start the day with clarity of purpose, help us to relax in stressful situations and support our productivity at work. They might be worded as: “I step into my day awake and ready to work.” “I meet this day with joy and gratitude.” “My confidence is strong and centered in being present.” “I feel connected and enjoy my colleagues, remembering we work as a team.”
A yoga practice that includes an intention allows for alignment on a spiritual plane, deepening the experience of exploring asana. While we often approach yoga from a point of physical alignment, the balance of the two is really what yoga is all about.