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Why do we set an intention in yoga?

Have you ever been in a yoga class where your teacher asks you to set an intention?

Without examples, you may have been confused, felt too silly in case you got it wrong, or skipped past it. So what is a yoga intention? What should it be about?

In this blog you’ll learn why we set an intention, how to find your own, and why it’s an integral element of yoga. By the time you’ve got to the end of this blog, you’ll be setting your own intentions and discovering the mind-shifting benefits of this vital part of your practice.

What is an intention?

Known as ‘sankapla’ in Sanskrit, there are two types of intention in yoga.

The first is a truth about yourself, for example: “I am whole.”

The second is a commitment to the journey you are on in your life and practice, like: “I welcome forgiveness.”

Why do we set an intention in yoga?

Setting an intention in yoga is about establishing a feeling or quality you want to bring into your practice - and life.

Because yoga is about connecting your mind and body, setting your intention establishes that connection and invites your body along.

Your intention also connects your yoga practice with the rest of your life, because it can be applied to other areas of your life as you channel your inner peace and live more mindfully.

Benefits of setting an intention in yoga

If you haven’t got around to setting an intention in yoga yet, don’t overlook it.

Here are some of the advantages of having an intention in your practice:

Ground yourself

Your intention is a tool to use when your mind gets busy. Use it to bring you back to your core belief when you doubt yourself in a certain posture or your mind starts to spiral

Prevent your ego taking over

It’s easy to drift into comparing yourself to others, criticising yourself for toppling out of that balance posture, or getting tangled up in our own thoughts during yoga.

Remembering your intention stops your ego from taking over and brings you back to what’s important. Why did you really come to the mat today?

Welcome positivity

Like a gratitude journal, repeating your intention helps you process and let go of unwanted thoughts and emotions, spreading a positive mindset through every part of your life.

Take it off the mat

Back in the outside world, your intention can stay with you to ground you throughout your day, bring wisdom into your mind, and help you tackle whatever life throws in your path.

How do I come up with a yoga intention?

Intentions should come naturally to you without overthinking.

Let your mind drift and see what comes up - will the following pointers in mind:

  • Set it in the present tense - it’s a reminder to stay in the moment, be conscious, and affirm the wonder of you exactly as you are ;

  • Embrace positivity to encourage a positive mindset - e.g. rather than “I am not stressed or anxious”, your intention would be “I am calm and at peace”;

  • Make sure it’s realistic, so you don’t slip into a negative thought pattern if you feel you have “failed”;

  • Choose an intention that can extend into your off-mat life - e.g. “I am strong” - you are physically and mentally strong during your practice, and that will continue into everyday decision making and emotional hurdles.

Does my yoga intention have to be about me?

No! While they do tend to be, they don’t have to be.

You could dedicate your practice to someone else - for example - “I send strength to my mum to recover”.

After all, yoga is a gift - so there’s plenty of love to share with people in your life who need it most right now.

What are some examples of yoga intentions?

If you’re still struggling to centre your mind on setting an intention in your next yoga class, we’re going to share some of ours to inspire yours.

Remember, it’s personal to you, so even if your yoga intention is sparked by someone else, it must feel authentic to you for you to truly commit to it.

Here are 10 examples of yoga intentions:

  1. I am loved

  2. I am full of joy

  3. I am letting go

  4. I trust my body

  5. I am enough

  6. I am putting myself first

  7. I am awake

  8. I have everything I need

  9. I share the light within me

  10. I see love in myself and others.

Although they often do, your intention doesn’t need to start with “I am” - it might be a simple concept like “breathe”, “gratitude”, or “love”.

Find your intention on the mat

Are you ready to come to the mat and discover your intention? We set one in every yoga practice, and your teacher always shares theirs to help you find your own.

If you haven’t visited our warm, luxurious, and welcoming Ribble Valley yoga studio yet, there’s a spot waiting for you to shake off life’s pressures and tap into your inner calm.

Start with your 21-Day Intro Pass and please drop us a message if you have a question!

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