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How to set an intention for your yoga practice

Friday, January 15, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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Extended Side Angle Pose II Extended Side Angle Pose in Bali (Mmmm, Bali)

Thanks to the magic of time travel, I am writing to you all from Friday 15 January. Okay, so those of you who are in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific are already here with me, but the rest of the world is still back in Thursday 14th. They are all so yesterday.

Down here, in the world of tomorrow, it is the first new moon of 2010 and I am celebrating – as I've already explained – by giving myself a little bit more of what I need. I'm beginning a new 30 day cycle of sadhana or committed yoga practice.

Some of you are coming along with me for the journey – thank you so much for your company. One of the most important lessons I learned in 2009 was the importance of good company.

Someone who is always good company, in the very best sense of that word, is my friend and fellow yoga teacher Kara-Leah Grant. She wrote a white-hot post about the five things she learned in 2009 and I can tell you right now that you want to follow that link and read what she has to say. Amongst other so-true-they-are-blindingly-good things, she also learned the value of good company. That probably had a lot to do with the fact that she got to know me, right?

Anyway, having good company is one of the best strategies for making positive changes in your life. So it's fantastic that we all have each other for support and company as we embark on this 30 day challenge.

So how do we get started?

The place to start is with an intention and a good intention is one that is deeply grounded in your current situation and state – something that is founded in what you need and want more of rather than any abstract ideas about what you 'should' be doing.

So I suggest that you start by finding some time and space to spend a little bit of time in your own company. You might like to go for a walk along a beach or you might like to sit quietly in your own living room. You might like to take a bath (mmmm, baths). Whatever helps you settle back into yourself and draw your attention inwards.

Now just notice what is going on. What is going on in your body? What is going on in your mind? What kinds of thoughts are predominating? How is your mood? What is going on in your environment? What season is it? What kind of weather? What else is going on in your life right now? Overall – how do you feel? What are you craving more of? Do you need more energy, more openness, more motivation, more fun, more release?

Using that insight, you will realise that you know what you want and need more of and you can set an intention – or sankalpa – for your practice. Sometimes you may want to make your sankalpa a dedication, you can dedicate your practice to someone specific or to a wider group of beings.

In the past I've dedicated my practice to friends who were unwell or suffering or – not infrequently – I've dedicated my practice to all people living in fear. On those occasions I have set an intention to practice with love because I personally believe that love can dissolve fear. 

So, find your sankalpa. Set your intention. Then begin your practice. Choose wisely and with kindness. Enjoy.

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5 Responses to "How to set an intention for your yoga practice"

  1. Alexis Grant says:

    This applies to more than just yoga! Made me think about a few other practices in my life, too. Thanks!

  2. amy says:

    when i signed up for this thirty day practice I was reflecting quite a bit on what i wanted more of for myself this year (physically and emotionally). this post and the events of this week have got me thinking more about the idea of dedications and intentions that go beyond me. thank you.

  3. Rebekka says:

    I love this…I can’t wait to check back!

  4. Emily Perry says:

    mmmm bali! my sankalpa for my practice this month is to be gentle and listen to my body. i have a tendency to dive into things so intensely, i end up so sore that i have to take a break for a few days, and then i end up almost where i started, instead of being slow and steady. so i am putting nice, calm, open, grounded energy out there for my sadhana. thank you again for doing this! xxoo

  5. This is soooo very true: “Anyway, having good company is one of the best strategies for making positive changes in your life.”
    Amen to that! Thank you for your wisdom.

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