Many times at the start of class as we are tuning in I ask yogis to set an “intention” which leads me to think “What is yoga intention? The four layers of tuning that we use in class frequently correspond to the koshas.
- annamaya kosha—the physical body
- pranamaya kosha—the breath or life-force body
- manomaya kosha—the mental body
- vijanamaya kosha—the wisdom body
- anandamaya kosha—the bliss body
We generally use the first four koshas for tuning in, the anadamay kosha perfect balance, nirvana something that takes a lot of yoga not probably going to happen while tuning in. the vijianamaya kosha – wisdom body, mindfulness, thoughtfulness is generally where we set a yoga intention. Yoga not huff puff non thinking exercises, but a profound union of mind, body, and spirit. Setting an intention deepens the yoga practice.
An intention can be a simple word you dedicate your practice to that represents a value you’d like to bring into your life. For example, love, trust, vulnerability, freedom from fear, openness, love, compassion, truth or tenderness. Powerful intentions directly address feelings you’d like to modify. Feeling weak? Set strength as your intention. Doubtful? Go with belief.
During your practice, perhaps during your most challenging pose (Wheel or Handstand, anyone?) call forth that intention, whether it be strength or belief in your abilities, and allow it to power you through the posture. In the same fashion, when you are having difficult moments in life, once your intention is set you’ll be able to call it forth when you need it, to guide your decisions and actions and base them on your values. Intentions give you a way to stay grounded and to connect with your true self, no matter what storms start brewing.
Intention vs Goal
According to Buddhist teaching, intentions are not oriented to future outcomes. Instead, an intention is more of a continual aspiration, or a path, based on an understanding of what really matters most to you. In a way, establishing your intention is making a commitment to those values most important to you. Over time, your actions begin to align with your intentions, bringing clarity, truthfulness to life.
Another way to look at intention in the context of a yoga practice is to ask yourself why you go to yoga class. What were you hoping to achieve through class or where were you hoping to arrive? If you answer these questions honestly, you will find your intention. When you begin to understand what you are seeking from your yoga practice, you can see how to direct energies and actions to get there. Your intentions will change over time as you evolve. Take the time to tune in, listen to the body, breath the breath of life, focus the mind the body, and develop your intention(s).