You are what your deepest desire is. As is your desire, so is your intention. As is your intention, so is your will. As is your will, so is your deed. As is your deed, so is your destiny. -Unpanishads
Setting an intention in yoga practice goes beyond grounding to my mat and keeping me focused throughout a session. My intention is created through my deepest desires while in stillness. It is an epiphany of wants or needs that transcends any goal or single action. It can change, be added onto, or remain the same for some time. An intention can be powerful or simple. It feels good to set an intention and be in tune to your life’s purposes- trust me, you have them! Intentions are in you- they’re organic.
In reality, most yoga practitioners aren’t going to think about setting an intention unless in class (I’m not talking about yogis, just referring to the masses who do yoga for exercise and relaxation). Here are some tips and examples for intention growth:
Yoga begins with meditation, breathing, quieting internal chatter, and focusing inward. In order to “yoke”, it’s important to be in union with ourselves, mind-body-spirit, before flowing with the class. For me, the union and stillness begins before class, in savasana, or “corpse pose”. This is where I begin to set my intention. I tune out my day, and become present to where I am on my mat. Here I am protected from the outside elements, in my own personal greenhouse. I prepare the communal garden bed, the path for which my intention will evolve. Think of this pose as returning to the dust in the circle of life. Back in this soil, I am planting a seed, the seed of intention.
Balasana, Child’s Pose
In this posture, the seed of intention is slowly germinating, springing to life and forming with every breath. Rooted in a state of restful awareness, I let go of my day, worries, and stress with each exhale, and I inhale pureness, light, and nourishment. Once I release the unwanted mental toxins in open mouth exhales, I seal my lips for ujjayi breathing. This helps me become more grounded and self aware, thus letting go of judgment, the ego, and finding contentment. Here my intention begins to sprout above the soil, taking shape and producing foliage.
Samasthiti, Standing at Attention
Upright, with palms into one another at heart’s center, my intention starts to bud. The environment is right for the knowledge and awareness of my intention to take hold and blossom. My deepest desire grows stronger, and I stay rooted in my intention for the remainder of class.
Final Savasana, Corpse Pose
Harvest season is here! Think of the circle of life again. I’ve completed the active asanas, or poses, and once again, I am settling as dust. My intention is absorbed in my bloodstream, ready to give me energy for the rest of my day. My heart is light; my spirit is lifted. My slow, steady breath stirs the residual memories of today’s class, the rich compost I leave behind on my mat, in which to plant soon, another seed of intention…