Often times a teacher will invite you to set an intention at the beginning of your yoga practice. What pressure! You already went through the trouble to put on stretchy pants, show up, roll out your mat, and now you’re being asked to THINK.
Well, yes. But we’re not doing it to be jerks: we are inviting you to step outside of your mind’s regular chatter.
So how do you start?
Close your eyes. Shift your focus from your thoughts to the feelings in your body.
Start with your toes and travel upward. Are you holding tension anywhere? Hips? Shoulders? Jaw? Often, just acknowledging the clenching will cue your body to release.
Now notice your breath. Start to deepen it to a comfortable inhale and exhale, and notice if that helps you arrive to the space you are currently occupying.
Focusing on the breath also gives you a break from focusing on your to do list, so take your time with it. Count the length of your inhale and try to make the exhale an extra count longer.
Breath awareness naturally calms the mind. So now when you return to your thoughts, you can see more clearly what you need or want from your practice.
That’s your intention!
It can be as simple as “I want to loosen my hips,” or as abstract as “I want to feel light and free” or as lofty as “I want everybody everywhere to feel peace.” The point is that you are able to focus your mind on something other than what the person on the next yoga mat is doing, or what tasks await at the end of class, or a rehash of a morning office meeting.
Instead, you are here, with yourself, with your practice, and with your intention. All love.