When we come to our yoga mats, whether we are aware or not, we set an intention. It may be something as literal to the asana practice as, “I am here to practice yoga” or, “I want to strengthen my core”. It could be more reflective of overcoming fears or self-doubt, when we need intentions like, “today will be a good day” or “I trust myself”. We can benefit by simply becoming aware of setting an intention and then deepening that awareness.
There are diverse ways to make intention-setting work for you. You could choose to set one each morning as you begin your day. Or, perhaps setting an intention feels more accessible when you step onto your yoga mat. You can write your intention down or share it with someone else, thus demonstrating your commitment. There are no rules in this practice, and you will learn what feels appropriate for you. You may also choose to evolve this practice as you change and grow. You might add meditation, a daily yoga practice, or more mindful self-care to this exercise. Intention-setting is limitless and the more you practice it, the more you will experience expansion and awareness.
Setting an intention does matter and makes a difference in how we approach our lives on and off the mat. It influences decisions we make and how we choose to respond, rather than react. At first, making the commitment to setting an intention can feel like a challenge. Observe this experience without judgment. Notice the difference between observation and judgment by clarifying the intention. Become aware of what happens when intention-setting becomes part of your daily life.
Over the last several months I have been under more stress at my other−non-yoga teacher−job than I had previously experienced. The awareness of this stress actually caused me more stress when my internal dialog, and judge, told me that I should be better able to manage this. Especially because I am a devoted yogini and teacher! Not so. For me, it took time and reflection, partnered with asana (poses) and pranayama (breath), to create the space, openness and acceptance required to better understand what I needed to find some much-needed balance. I discovered that I required two things: to set an intention every morning, and to come to my mat on a daily basis−no matter how busy or tired I was feeling. There were days in the height of stress that I skipped my practice, which was the opposite of what I needed; I had to make it a higher priority.
I challenge you to set a daily intention; to be an observer of how it affects you on and off the mat, allow it to be a gift you give yourself, and embrace it.
Alicia Hitzler is a Registered Yoga Teacher at INVIVO Wellness in Milwaukee, WI. Her commitment to yoga has been a life-changing experience for her and she is passionate about sharing her love for yoga with others. She practices the integration of yoga into all areas of her life in order to gain a deeper understanding of herself and the world.