Think about the times you do things with intention: intentional speaking, putting your yoga mat down intentionally, or even drinking water with intention. There is thought and consideration behind the action. Such is the intention we set in a yoga class, also known as sankalpa. We are planting seeds so we can move through our days and our lives with purpose.
The first time a teacher asked me to set an intention for my yoga class, I really had no clue what they meant. For those early classes, my intentions were more along the lines of “I intend on making it through this class and getting a coffee afterward.”
Over the years, I’ve come to realize your intentions can be personal—some examples include treating myself with more kindness or focusing on my breath during this yoga class. Alternatively, they can be as universal as spreading peace or being love. There is no right or wrong in the intention-setting process—it really comes down to what speaks to you in that moment. What are you working on internally that you want to cultivate more of? Or conversely, what do you want to express more of externally?
A good place to start your intention setting is to remember that intentions happen now. You are not goal setting for future occurrences. Instead, you are directing your energy toward something in this moment. That’s not to say your intention to be more loving won’t land you a future partner—but that’s not the point. The point is to recognize what you can create more of right now.
Your yoga mat has an interesting way of reflecting your life, so whatever you set your intention on may have a way of spilling over into your day-to-day. Let’s say you set an intention of grace. You focus on moving with more grace on your yoga mat, then most likely walk more gracefully out to your car, and then, the next day, ease more gracefully into that conversation with your boss. Intentions set an undercurrent of “mindfulness into motion” that we subconsciously carry with us; and the more we practice setting them, the stronger that undercurrent becomes.
To help you set an intention that speaks to you, ask yourself:
Sit quietly and let yourself slip into the streams of consciousness that these questions stimulate. Stay with your breath and concurrently stay fluid with your thoughts. Let them drift toward broader themes like love, compassion, or nature, and see what comes up for you. Remember that we are constantly evolving and, as such, our intentions also evolve. What comes to you as an intention one day may change the next day. Keep yourself open for possibility to flow in and allow your deeper truth and intentions to unfold.