I officially started practicing yoga two months ago (how is it August?!) and have been getting in anywhere from three to five sessions a week. Last month, I switched from a studio to a big box gym. There are good differences, as well as differences I’m learning to accept, but one of the first differences I noticed was that the studio I went to was very internally focused. The instructors used Sanskrit often and always offered a moment to set an intention – or sankalpa – for that day’s practice.
Intention? I admit I was clueless, but I don’t like being clueless, so I asked around, did some research and figured it out.
An intention for a yoga practice is…whatever you want it to be!
Intentions are about now (v. goals, which are about the future). It’s about what you want to be during your practice and carry out with you when you leave. It’s not about what you think you should (the dreaded should) want, it’s about what you need.
Focusing on now is, delightfully, one of the reasons I wanted to start practicing in the first place. I began to love the idea of setting an intention for how I want to be. I need time with a calm mind and love that yoga gives that to me (some days more easily than others). Serenity is often my intention.
Sometimes my intentions are simple words that embrace multifaceted ideas, just like that. Other intentions I’ve set or heard from others include:
Refresh + energize
Calmness of mind
Strength of body and spirit
Connection to the earth
Dedicating the day’s practice to someone who needs the energy
Set your intention on a difficult person or situation (which hopefully brings calmness to the situation, not agitation to your practice)
Releasing the negative
So, the idea is to set this intention for your practice, then let it go. Come back to it a few times throughout, come back to it at the end and leave it. It’s one of those new-agey, give-it-to-the-universe things that I never expected to be about, but I am. I believe that you find what you need when you need it, and focusing positive energy will never hurt that.
It’s not something that the instructors at the gym usually remind the class of, but now I find myself setting one regularly and reaping the benefits.
Do you set intentions for your practice? What are your go-tos? Were you as clueless as I was at first?!