In the yoga world we hear the term “intention setting” thrown around a lot. I’m one of those teachers who asks my students to set an intention at the beginning of class, sometimes offering up a suggested intention and other times letting my students cultivate something for themselves. I got thinking the other day though, there are many of us who won’t know much about intention setting and why it is beneficial, so here’s the what, why and how. The next time you’re journaling, in a yoga class or just ready to kick start your week in a positive way, come back to intention setting, take a moment to find yours and go forth & conquer!
WHAT IS AN INTENTION?
Intentions are most frequently confused with expectation – both the expectation we put on ourselves and the people around us. This is where things get tricky, because we then link blame to an ‘intention’ not becoming a truth. Where an expectation is something you want to receive from the world, an intention is something you want to give. The clue is in the name – “I intend to…”. That’s where we focus in yoga, at least in my classes. An example of an intention I might set in my yoga class is “I will give my focus to my breath throughout the practice” or “I will give my joy and an open mind to the day ahead.” An intention can be broad and rather general, or it can be very specific. There is no right or wrong, it’s just what feels good for you.
WHY DO WE SET THEM?
It’s true that only we have the power to change our lives. Something like an intention or mantra can seem small in the grand scheme of things when we are struggling with issues, but planting that seed of positivity and proactiveness will put an energetic force on the mind and body that you maybe didn’t know was there, or had lost for a moment.
I’m not saying that a bit of intention setting will immediately change your life and rid you of any issues – of course I fully believe in seeking support from others too – but ultimately the want to change has to come from within us. When we set an intention with belief and confidence, there is so much that we can achieve.
HOW DO I SET AN INTENTION?
This is the easy part. All you need is your own brain and body… and a pen and paper if you’re like me and sometimes like to write sh*t down! You might want to save your intentions for the yoga studio and that’s cool, but maybe come at it from a different angle the next time you’re there. Ask yourself “what do I want to GIVE to this practice, to those around me and to myself?”. And remember that giving to those around you isn’t about people-pleasing and giving what you think will make them happy, it’s about fulfilling your soul and making YOU happy based on receiving nothing in return, but only giving.
Intentions aren’t just for yogis. Let’s get that clear. A Monday morning before the start of a busy week is a great time to set an intention. Maybe tie it in with a few minutes of meditation, so you can really breath it into the body, root it down within you and go about your week. Unsure on how to meditate, check this out.
Another common mistake about intention setting is when we forget to just LET IT GO. Now you’re probably thinking this is a bit backwards, but what’s the point of having an intention that we stress over or get frustrated with if it doesn’t happen? An intention is there to be meditated on, thought about and worked on, but not to the point of it becoming a chore. If it doesn’t happen, just let it go. Start a new week with a new intention and just keep doing your work in the best way you can.
There have been SO many times when I’ve set an intention at the beginning of class and then when the teacher says at the end to come back to my intention I’m like “oh crap, what the heck was my damn intention?!”. And that’s ok. Sure, the aim is to work with it, bring it to life through my practice and give, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. That’s ok. That’s human. That’s the mind. A very hectic and confusing place. The important thing is that we’re working on finding a little bit of space up there and slowly (maybe very slowly) our intentions will become our truth.
Take a moment now, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing and set an intention. What would you like to give to your day?
HAPPY INTENTION SETTING!
Love & light, Cat x