A few months ago I started taking a yoga class for the first time in about 17 years. I’ve always struggled with holding poses in yoga. I’m not so good at the stillness, so I’ve often stayed away from yoga. For the most part, this power yoga class moves pretty fast and the moves are fun and challenging but manageable. I’m really enjoying the class even though it requires me to get up early on a Sunday. One of the aspects that I’ve come to really appreciate is setting an intention at the start of each class.
It gives me a focal point that I can return to when my mind wanders or I’m frustrated on my progress or discomfort in a pose. I think, “Well, Maggie, your intention was to breathe, so focus there and see if it helps or what you notice” or “your intention was to find comfort, so ease off today and let it be comfortable” This is a simple idea and no shocking surprise that it’s a way to refocus, but I definitely never appreciated that concept years ago. And in a world that moves at a rapid pace, it feels good to return to a set focal point.
I don’t plan my intention in advance. The instructor cues setting an intention and it pops in my head. I sit cross legged and wonder what all the other intentions in the room are and think it might be neat to have everyone leave their intentions in an anonymous jar at the end of class. Some day all the wishes could be compiled.
In addition to providing focus, it creates a mini-goal. Why did I show up today? What am I hoping to get out of class? Is there something I need? What can I learn? What can I learn about what I need?
Every night before I go to bed, I create a list of tomorrow’s intentions for the entire day. Inevitably, it’s an impossible list. I’m an overzealous list maker. But at yoga, you set your intention—not plural. One intention for the hour. I wonder if my day would go better if I had one daily intention. It’s not plausible, but perhaps it would be a place to refocus when I’m bogged down in my master list to pull me out of a frustrating task or when I get lost in all the noise of the day.
What is your intention for today, the year ahead, or your next fitness class?
My first Ashtanga yoga class. Spoiler alert: I liked it a lot.
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My form of meditation looks like swimming in Jell-O.
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