This is the time of year when we consider resolutions, which are just a form of setting clear and conscious intentions. Setting intentions are a common aspect of the yoga tradition. A teacher will often open or close a class by asking you to set an intention for your practice. In essence, they’re asking you to consciously decide how or where you would like to direct the good energy that you generate during your practice. Do you want to direct it to your health? Good relations? Your work? In the Buddhist practice I follow, we often end a meditation session with the phrase, “may the merits of this practice be dedicated to the end of suffering.” This is a form of setting an intention – dedicating whatever “goodness” flows from the meditation to the end of suffering for all beings.
While it hasn’t typically been my practice to offer a moment for intention-setting in my classes, I’m setting an intention to start setting intentions! At least for the month of January, we will take a moment in class to set an intention.
Consider that whatever positive benefits you experience in yoga have a ripple effect into the world. When you feel more pleasant, you are more pleasant to be around. When your mental state is full of joy or is simply content, it is contagious. So setting an intention to improve your health and happiness is not only a service to you during your yoga practice, but to all those around you once you leave class. As you make resolutions think about what will bring you into a state of peace, health and happiness – not only for yourself, but for the world. Yes, I know, that sounds really big. Don’t worry about it, just set an intention.
Here are two great articles on this subject:
5 Steps to Setting Powerful Intentions by Deepak Chopra
3 Ways to Set an Intention in Your Yoga Practice by Kimberley Stokes