Models: Kaley Klasson (Front), Phvong Waltors, Courtney Wexler, Rhea Vega, Melinda Quesenberry, Cheryl Davidson, Krisha Arnobit, Christina Pierce, Nicole Triviston // Photo Credit: Eric Rosso
The word intention is derived from the 13th century Old French word entente meaning aim, attention, or purpose. This ancient word carries deep intrinsic value even in our daily modern lives, as we remind ourselves that there is power in moving from digital distraction to attentive direction.
Unlike a goal, an intention is the manifestation of a dream or resolve into action with no attachment to the outcome. Setting an intention offers you the opportunity to infuse purpose into everything you think, say, and do. It allows your aim to illuminate your path in each moment of your day. This simple practice provides an opening to step out of a result-driven way of being, and instead into the practice of meeting life as it is, both naturally and essentially. When you choose to give up control of the outcome, to trust the process and even welcome uncertainty, you allow space for the natural evolution of your intent to expand as you co-create with the world around you.
Your yoga mat is a safe, accessible place for generating intention. When you frame your intention on the mat, it becomes an actionable opportunity to refocus your breath and movement on the expansion of your highest aim. Through just one word or vow your intention can transform your physical yoga practice into a “moving mantra.” Your poses become in essence a “container,” which then get filled with the energy of your purpose.
Nearly every transition and each breath on your mat is within your control. This means that you have the power to redirect any stagnant energy to any focal point. After all, energy can be neither destroyed nor created; just transformed. As you choose to set your highest aim each class, remember that there is power in specificity and repetition. Seeing what you desire clearly is the first step in creating it. In contrast, if your intention is too broad and your lens too wide, your practice can feel cluttered, unsteady and even blurry. Simplifying your attention to one resolve can amplify your intention’s potential.
Remember that, as it takes time to train your muscular and skeletal body to adapt to the physicality of each pose, it will also take time to train your mind as it rewires the grooves and patterns of your thoughts to match your highest aim. This willful affirmation will help shift your focus from any negative, fear-based thinking that is present for you on a daily basis, to a more positive and love-based thinking.
Creating and observing an intention in a yoga class can be as uncomplicated and easy as you choose to make it. When you first arrive on your mat, listen to the cues, invitations, and hints your body offers you and respond with an intention that feels natural and true. We often forget that wisdom is not the accumulation of data or outside knowledge that is so readily available to us today; our internal wisdom and intuitive bodies tell us so much more than we realize.
Use the first moments on your mat to acknowledge your sacred space, then clear your mind and purposefully land on one point of focus. As you practice, notice when your mind tries to take you out of your embodied experience. Think of your intention as a guiding light that leads you back home to your body, and into the bliss of feeling present in the “now” moment. The act of setting an intention will likely leave you feeling grounded, focused, and inspired as you step off of your mat. That transformation and grounding sensation are reminders that changes happen to us on a daily—even hourly —level.
The practice of yoga can quickly and profoundly become a lens through which you view and live your life. Organic shifts will naturally start to happen as you continue to align your thoughts, breath, body with the attention of your intent. As you refine this directive and skill set of setting an intention during your yoga prac-tice, you may notice how much it can apply to your daily life.
Start with an intention-setting ritual every morning. Before you open your eyes or let your feet touch the earth, tune into what you’re thankful for, affirm your highest aim, and then ask for guidance. This easy practice can set the energetic rhythm for the rest of your day. It also serves to remind you that all of your intentions, hopes, and dreams are best served from a place of contentment. The act of declaration is extremely powerful. You can literally build your future through the fabric and energy of your words in the present moment. When you are unafraid to affirm your intentions and deepest desires to yourself each morning, you may be more able to share
these hopes with people in your life.
By redirecting your focus towards all that is positive, you can shift the quality of your experiences in an equally positive way. The manner in which you react and respond—especially to life’s unexpected happenings—will most certainly become more accepting. Unlike much of what happens to you and around you daily, you do in fact have complete control over your thoughts; and such thoughts directly correlate to your words, actions, and ultimately, your intentions. Whether you choose to set your intention on your mat, in your bed, or even over your morning coffee, practice often and be consistent. It will become a sweet reminder of all that is possible when you focus your thoughts, set your highest aim, and send your intentions out into the world.
Kaley Klasson is a 500 E-RYT power vinyasa teacher and wellness coach who has worked personally with hundreds of professional, olympic and collegiate level athletes across the world. Her classes are marked by a purposeful balance of dynamic sequencing and inspired exploration.