Have you heard of Yoga Intentions? In Sanscript, they are known as Sankalpa. Yoga Intentions have huge power to bring about changes you may want in your life. We are not talking about material changes here, intentions are not immediately going to put cash in your bank. They can, however, make you a more positive, happier and calmer person if that is what you choose.
Sometimes a yoga teacher will ask you to set a Sankalpa at the beginning of a class to carry through the class. This sort of intention could be to be gentle with yourself or to relax into the practice. We can also set our intentions to carry on outside of a yoga practice, here I’m thinking setting intentions at the beginning of the year and to carry them through the year. They are for positive change during the whole of the year.
What are Yoga Intentions?
A yoga intention brings about change in our internal state. It can be a change to a quality or an improvement in a virtue. We choose the change we want and invite it into our life. You select an inner value not an external goal.
Some examples might be: to be more peaceful, to be kinder and have more compassion for others. Would you like to let go of something hurtful or create greater wellness in your life? Patience, gratitude, softness, acceptance and greater trust are all potential areas to choose from.
We want to think of our intentions in a positive way. This is all due to the way our minds focus on the words we use. You want to think about what you are going to do not about what you are not going to do. What do you want to achieve – If you want to be calmer that is the intention rather than you want to be less anxious.
How Yoga Intentions differ from Resolutions and Goals
A yoga intention has a deeper meaning than a goal as it comes from the heart, not the head. Goals and New Year’s resolutions are often different to this. They could be to get a new job, learn a new skill or to achieve something such as a house move. Maybe travel more or start a new business. These are all external to ourselves not internal like intentions.
There can be some crossover between goals, resolutions and intentions. For example, a New Years resolution could be to look after yourself better. This could also be a yoga intention. Here the difference would be in how we approach the change.
When we set goals we often make them SMART. They are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. We write them down and actively work on them Intentions are much gentler than that.
Only you can choose your Yoga Intentions for the year. Heres a few ideas for you to choose from. This list is not exhaustive and it would be great to hear about yours. Remeber we are looking at qualities and values you would like to invite into your life.
- Be more patient/ grateful/loving/ caring / calmer
- Choose to be kinder to yourself/ others/someone specific
- Create more peace or softness in your life
- Choose to let go of past hurts
- Invite greater wellness into your life
- Learn acceptance or trust
How to choose your Yoga Intentions
Often at the beginning of a class, we are asked to select a Sankalpa and we have very little time to do this. When setting this for the year its good to be a bit more reflective however this is not something that is going to take hours of your time.
- You look into your heart to find your intentions and they should pop up fairly quickly.
- Do not over think this process.
- Sit quietly or maybe go for a walk on your own.
- Ask yourself what change you would like to bring about this coming year.
- Look at the first couple of things that come to mind, there is no need to go beyond this.
- I suggest no more than 2 too start with, let’s not try and create too much change at once.
Set Your Yoga Intentions for the New Year
Now we’ve chosen our intentions we need to set them. I am going to share my New Year yoga intentions as examples. I am choosing to be calmer and to invite more wellness into my life. Neither has a material goal and they are most certainly not SMART.
Choose your words carefully.
As I mentioned earlier we want to be positive in our intentions. I choose the positive to be calmer rather than the negative to be less anxious. I choose wellness rather than to eat less junk food and cake. These are the qualities I am going to invite into my life.
Clear your Mind
Once you have your intentions chosen we begin the process of setting them. Firstly clear your mind. Sit quietly and take a few deep belly breaths. Let go of everything. If you have difficulty with this phase then try one of my meditations such as this sunshine meditation which is appropriate for this time of year.
Meditate on your intentions
Now with a calm mind take each of your intentions in turn and meditate on your chosen words. Don’t take too long on each – I suggest between 5 and 10 breaths.
- Breathe in. Say to yourself for example “I will be calm this Year” Breath out.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times.
- Breathe in. Say to yourself for example ” I invite wellness into my life” Breathe out
- Repeat 5 to 10 times
That is it. Simple but powerful.
Trust in the process
Now comes that hardest part for some. Just trust in the process. You do not have to worry about your intentions or physically do anything about them. Maybe remember them when setting a Sankalpa in a yoga class or when looking for a focus during meditation. So simple and so effective.
For me, the intention simply comes back into my mind at appropriate times. When shopping in the supermarket, I remember the intention to invite wellness into my life. This helps me to make healthy food choices such as apples rather than chocolate.
Are you setting Yoga intentions for this New Year? If so I would love to hear about them and how you get on with them during the year. Has the process worked?