Energy flows where intention goes.
At the beginning of yoga class, I always invite my students to set an intention. Intention setting is an ancient yogic tradition of infusing your yoga practice with meaning. It is a way we differentiate yoga from other forms of physical fitness. That is because yoga is not just a work out, it is also a process of self-awareness and self-discovery. Taking an honest moment of self-reflection to verbalize to yourself what you want to cultivate in your life at this moment is the practice of intention setting.
Intention setting is often confused with goal setting. They may seem similar, but there is a subtle yet important distinction. Goals are something you try to achieve in the future. Goals can be useful and important in your career and in your life. Yoga intentions, however, don’t look to the future, but bring you into the present moment. Your intention is what you value most right now. Setting an intention is acknowledging and committing to that very value that is most sacred to you at this moment.
Intentions are highly personal. Some common intentions are: peace, patience, gratitude, presence, relaxation, compassions, strength, courage, breath, turning inward, or even a dedication to someone you love or to someone who is struggling. Sometimes if you simply ask yourself honestly, “Why did I come to this yoga class?” or at the root “Why am I here?” – your intention will appear. Setting intentions is a practice, and you may find over time that the intentions you set on the yoga mat begin to align with your actions off the mat and outside the studio.