by Lisa Feder
Do you love the way you feel when you practice Yoga? Does the practice calm you and help you feel more centered?
Do you love the challenge and the balance of gathering your strength and expanding your flexibility?
Would you like to manage your life the way you manage your practice?
Well, you can. Yoga provides us wonderful tools that we can take off the mat and into the day. We can use these tools to clear our minds, manage stress, handle communication challenges, and even manage our time with more comfort.
In this blog series I will cover challenges found in our daily life and how Yoga philosophy and practice can help us meet those challenges. Let’s start by talking about setting intentions. In each class that I teach, I invite students to set an intention at the beginning of class. Intention, in our practice is often spoken of as Sankalpa, which means: conception or idea or notion formed in the heart or mind, solemn vow or determination to perform, desire, definite intention, volition or will.
First I ask them “Why are you here? What got you to your mat today? There are so many other things you could be doing right now, why this?” It is my hope that this question will get them thinking about what they would like to develop, nurture, build, let go of, create, etc, in their lives. It could be as simple as wanting to create flexibility in the body to live with more ease. Or to find some quiet time, out of the hustle and bustle of their daily activities and responsibilities. Then I ask them to say this intention, often spoken of as “Sankalpa” as if it were fact. For example, “I am at ease” or “I am patient”. Then I remind them that the intention helps to make their practice their own, as it tunes them in to what they would like to manifest, just for themselves. It also helps bring them back to focus when they get distracted or interrupted by their thoughts or by others around them, changes in the temperature of the rooms, the smell of Taco Deli next door, and much more. And, most importantly, it reminds them that it’s not what they do in practice that matters, it’s the “why” they do it and “how” they approach it.
As Donna Farhi says: "In truth, it matters less what we do in practice than how we do it and why we do it. The same posture, the same sequence, the same meditation with a different intention takes on an entirely new meaning and will have entirely different outcomes".
Okay, so let’s get real. How can we take our intentions off our mats and into the world? In a world filled with noise, distractions, responsibilities, deadlines, and more, how do we stay true to our Sankalpa? Here are a few considerations to help you head into the real world with intention:
"Yoga is not about touching your toes or standing on your head or folding yourself into a lotus pretzel. It’s about how you do what you do and how you live your daily life on a moment-to-moment basis".
There will be challenges along the way. Distractions are everywhere, and it’s easy to get caught up in the doing. However, in just a few minutes a day, you can set the foundation for living more intentionally, and determining the direction in which you want to move. Anodea Judith, in Creating on Purpose, writes: If you keep you attention on your intention, then you current reality will be pulled toward your intention. Your current situation will change in accordance with the vision you have of the future. Your intention, when held firmly in place, shapes your reality.
Now it’s time to give it a try. Connect with yourself, and set an intention. Let me know how it goes!
Learn more about Lisa at Being Well Yoga.