5 Ways to Set an Intention

Have you ever sat in a quiet moment at the beginning of a class, ready for an intense and very necessary practice only to be thrown for a loop when your teacher asks you to set an intention for the class? 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.

Just as often, I sit there and think to myself, My intention is to be healthy–no, happy!–umm.. 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. It doesn’t have to cure cancer to be meaningful and effective.

I’ve spent some time thinking about it, and I want to share with you my 5 Best Intentions for yoga class:

1. Chill out! Life isn’t stressful unless you let it stress you out. So, my intention is to just chill out for the next hour and a half and RELAX for a change.

2. Be OK with where I am right now, and realize it’s the perfect place for me. My best is good enough!

3. Fill up, take care of myself, and emerge refreshed and energetic. No more running on fumes.

4. Turn inward–if only for a few moments.

5. Take the lessons I learn on the yoga mat and apply them into all the other areas of my life.

What do you usually think of when your teacher asks you to “set an intention” for your yoga practice?

Erica Rodefer is a writer and yoga practitioner in Charleston, SC. Visit her blog, Spoiledyogi.com, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.

Erica Rodefer Winters is a writer and yoga teacher in Charleston, South Carolina. Visit her blog, Spoiledyogi.com, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook

11 responses to “5 Ways to Set an Intention”

  1. Bob Weisenberg

    I’m in a little different position than many. My intention is to be less preoccupied with goals and achievement and more able to live more deeply in this moment right now. That’s why I retired after 30 years as a hard-driving software entrepreneur. I didn’t make any progress for a couple of years, until I found Yoga. Yoga has been the path that has helped me relax and enjoy the present moment.
    So when I hear about “setting intentions”, I understand what that means and why it’s exactly what some people need in their lives right now. In my particular case, my intention is to be less driven by intentions and more able to just be right now. See “Effortless Wellbeing” http://bit.ly/ddDmqB
    Bob W.

  2. Melinda

    Hehe I’ve totally been there, which is why I tend to stick to one word intentions that mean something bigger. For example, ‘peace’ means sending out tons of good vibes to all of the living things on the planet; ‘selflove’ means focusing on me and getting as much as I can out of the practice; ‘ambition’ means pushing myself a little harder (but not too hard!) to reach that next level; ‘release’ means letting go of all the negative and stressful things in my life and melting into a calm, relaxing bit of yoga. Anyway, complex intentions seem to be too much for me at the beginning of class, so it’s nice to just pick a strong word and go with it. Easier to remember and repeat too. :)

  3. Caroline

    My default intention is to practice ahimsa.

  4. Rick

    I always have a hard time setting an intention for the practice. You and your commenters have given me some insight. Thanks.

  5. Gman

    Thanks I like you tips and I learned something new today!

  6. Cherrie

    Ahhh…intentions…Not always easy. Often I do inhale/exhale intentions which I can follow through the entire class. Joy/Peace. Ram/Ohm. Expand/Release Sometimes someone in my life gets my attention/intention. Most often I search. Thanks for reminding me that we are in this together.

  7. Suzannah

    Most often I opt for, “just do the yoga.” Class would be over by the time I choose something to focus on. And as if the universe sent me that instruction, it turns out to be exactly what I need to focus on.

  8. Suzannah

    Most often I opt for, “just do the yoga.” Class would be over by the time I choose something to focus on. And as if the universe sent me that instruction, it turns out to be exactly what I need to focus on.

  9. Susan

    My intention is frequently to cleanse my nadis channels so I can rid myself of clutter/stress that inhibitis my connection with Spirit. Lately my stress has accumulated in my hips, so I pay attention to allowing that area to relax. It doesn’t feel like I can do this on my own, I invite Spirit to work with me and remain open to the experience that the instructor provides. Setting an intention enhances my yoga practice.

  10. marilyn

    I always begin with gratitude; opening my heart to new possibilities and a feeling of certainty that it will happen.

  11. StudioLiveTV

    Great suggestions. I would add: Breathe! Just enjoy breathing and having the time to appreciate your body and its flowing breath and energy.
    Namaste
    StudioLiveTV.com