We’ve all heard it at the beginning of yoga class: “Take this time to set an intention.” When I hear this instruction at the beginning of class, sometimes my mind goes totally blank, and I become stressed before the asana part of class even starts. My mind starts spinning… I can’t even think of an intention!? Seriously?! That should be the easy part.
Other times, I sit there and think to myself, My intention is to be healthy–no, happy!… or more mindful? Wait! Is that selfish? Maybe I should be a vessel for world peace? Or dedicate my practice to orphans.. Yeah! Orphans! But what about the cancer patients?… and so it goes.. What can I say? I’m either a blank canvas or ideas (and guilt) come spewing so fast they can barely be contained. It doesn’t have to be this way. In my heart, I know that an intention can be a simple, beautiful truth about you and why you practice.
Here are a 5 simple tips for intention setting during yoga class and beyond.
1. Don’t force it. It nothing immediately pops into your head, that’s OK! It enough to just breathe and be at ease in the moment. (Isn’t that why you come in the first place? That’s a perfectly lovely intention!)
2. Go with it! When something does come up, go with it! Intentions don’t have to be grandiose or selfless–it’s much better to be authentic and honor the thoughts that come up naturally.
3. To-do lists are not welcome here. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about what you “intend” to get done later in the day, but intentions are more about connection than completing tasks.
4. Jot it down, and revisit it often. When an intention comes to you, write it down the first chance you get. Then, revisit it often and make adjustments as necessary. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is a great way to get clear about who you want to be and what you put out into the world.
5. Consider making your intention your mantra–something you come back to when you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, or any time you need a reminder that you are a beautiful, talented, capable, strong person who is loved by many. You’ve got this! And the world is a better place because you’re committed to staying true to you.
And, yes, wearing a symbol that reminds you of your intention is also a lovely way to help you focus on it as you move about your day. One of my favorites is the Kris Carr I Am Love mala because my intention right now is to infuse my every action with love for myself, for those I love easily, and especially those who are hard to love.