Men and women, adults, and children—if you want to feel more balance in your life and a deeper sense of calm and gratitude overall, you can benefit from practicing yoga and meditation. Yoga can be used as a form of physical exercise as well as for mental clarity and exploration of oneself. During a yoga class and in meditation, you are encouraged to set an intention that will allow you to listen to your body, calm your mind, and go at your pace to achieve the results you set. These results all come from setting an intention, which is essentially just a purpose for what you hope to get out of your practice.
Maybe you want to work on your breathing and not overthinking the situation around you or concentrate less on what others in the class are doing around you. It is easy to be overwhelmed by all that you have going on—the pressures at work, finding time to spend with friends and family, and other commitments that you have on your plate. There are not enough hours in the day to fit in everything that you would like to accomplish in such a short amount of time. Learning how to set an intention for yourself may be just what you need.
What Is an Intention?
An intention is a wish or a desire that you discern for yourself and then release out into the universe to manifest. To determine your personal intention (or intentions), think about what it is that is happening in your life and which areas you feel need a little more love and attention. Unless you take the time to figure out what those areas are, you will continue on unchanged.
Maybe you struggle with patience, or you would like to be more forgiving toward others. To break up the repetition and mundane activities of life, head to a yoga class or set aside some time to meditate to help yourself refocus on the parts of your life that could be improved.
The Law of Intention
The process of setting an intention starts with understanding the Law of Intention and Desire: “Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment . . . intention and desire in the field of pure potentiality have infinite organizing power. And when we introduce an intention in the fertile ground of pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us.”
In a more basic sense, the Law of Intention can be broken down into three affirmations. They will help you to incorporate your yoga intentions beyond the yoga mat and into your daily life as you go deeper into your spiritual journey. Discover the three affirmations here. If you have not previously set an intention, these affirmations will help you get started.
Intention in Meditation
Yoga and meditation are two practices that go hand-in-hand when it comes to healing. Meditation is a practice where you use a technique, such as focusing your mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. The practice of meditation helps to slow you down and it allows you to let go of any sense of urgency that you may feel.
Just as you would during yoga, you want to set an intention each time you take part in a meditation practice. With that said, being able to set your intention in meditation is a powerful tool, but the process must be respected for it to work. Here are some tips to help you set (and keep) a clear intention with your meditation practice:
- Write down your intentions. There is power in the physical act of writing something down. Putting your hand to paper and seeing the words come to life right in front of you can really help create a sense of permanency and definiteness to your words.
- State your intentions in the positive. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t want to show up late anymore,” say, “I will always be on time or arrive early to places that I am going.”
- Read over your intentions before you go into your meditation. This is helpful for those individuals who have set a lot of intentions. Quickly skim through them again to familiarize yourself and the universe as a gentle reminder of what you have set out to achieve.
- Surrender your intentions to the universe. Letting go is not easy to do. However, it’s necessary when setting your intentions. Because as much as you would like to believe that you have control over what happens in your life, you don’t. So rather than fight it, embrace the freedom of not having to try to control everything.
- Be open to infinite possibilities. You never know when or where you could end up having a breakthrough, so it’s important to be open to possibilities that could end up being the beginning of a great new chapter in your life.
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Set Your Intentions
There is no one right way to go about setting intentions; they work if they help your personal growth as an individual. Some intentions can be long and others are more precise and to the point. If you’re looking for focus in your life, you may want to start small by setting a one-word intention. By selecting one word to encompass your intention, you will be better able to prioritize what needs your attention most.
A one-word pledge gives you a way to frame your journey without a heavy reliance on one end goal or outcome. To create long-term change, you need to be committed to the word you have chosen and find a way to identify the feeling that you wish to feel. It’s important to remember that your word may change or evolve as time goes on. What may work for you now and where you are at this year may be different in just a few months.
Don’t get too hung up on a word if it no longer captures what intention you are trying to set for yourself. Be open and willing to the shifts that may occur and embrace them as they come. Remember that you do not have control over what happens in life; you can only control how you respond to what happens.
Embody the Word
Try to imagine the word you have chosen actually living and breathing inside of you. If you allow your body to come to a calm state, without outside distractions and noise, you allow the word to grow within you and become a more solidified part of your being.
By embodying your word, you’re creating an anchor that will help you to feel connected and bound to the intention you defined. If you find yourself struggling to internalize your word, try associating with a certain color, temperature, or any set of physical sensations that will allow it to carry more weight in your heart, mind, and body. The more you can relate to the word and feel it as an actual energy, the easier it will be to tap into that feeling when you need it.
Listen to Your Word
It can be easy to become overwhelmed trying to determine what word will accurately describe the intention that you hope to set. One way to help you hone in on your intention is to give your chosen word a voice and sound of its own.
Let your word speak to you in a way that you can hear in your mind while you’re thinking about it. Not all words or intentions will sound the same—they evoke different moods and mindsets within you. Compare this to a favorite song you listen to on the radio or an album you loved as a teenager; each song or playlist will affect your mood in different ways. Identify the music that relates to your word to help increase the level of connectedness you feel while you’re meditating or for your yoga intentions.
Personify Your Word
In the same way that you would want to give your one-word intention a sound of its own, it can also be helpful to imagine your word as either a person, place, or thing. By thinking of your word as some sort of symbol or expression, it can serve as a visual anchor that you can see throughout each day. For example, a photograph, famous icon, or a special crystal can all be symbols of your word that will help bring your word to life in a physical way as opposed to just being an idea or thought in your head. Just as physically writing things down can help serve as a visual list of your thoughts when setting your intention, assigning a person, place, or thing to your word can be just as significant in how it makes you feel.
Visualize Your Word
Last but not least, visualize your intention. This is a powerful mindset tool that will help you to see your intention or word as a visual image that your mind can tune into before you take action in your practice. Let yourself soak up the sensations and the energy from the visualization. This will serve as motivation and help to solidify the power of your yoga or meditation practice.
An intention can change the way that you feel about and perform a task, and it’s no different for practicing yoga. If you want to feel more balance in your life and a deeper sense of calm and gratitude overall, then you need to start your yoga practice with your intention in mind. Start small with your intention and build as you go until you begin to notice that you are continually fulfilling your goals.