Intention setting and yoga is a gorgeous combination and I wanted to share many of the awesome ways yoga students and teachers are integrating these. I hope it provides you great inspiration for your own practice and classes you may teach.
From My Yoga Mat to Yours
As an avid yogi, a creator of intention cards and someone who practices intention setting every day, I see such beautiful synergies in these practices and I wanted to share some of these ideas with you today.
My yoga practice begin off and on years ago. I distinctly remember returning to yoga when I was crippled with anxiety and horrible panic attacks. When I arrived I would place my mat near the door so, I could bolt if I anxiety consumed me. Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), that never actually happened.
Then, I returned to my yoga practice in earnest over 9 years ago when I embarked on my recovery journey. Yoga was a way to meet myself every morning. It helped me connect to my body and also befriend it. Soon, I began to understand the power of my breath appreciate what it meant to move mindfully and with intention (on my mat and through life).
I believe that living intentionally means choosing how we want to show up in the world and taking aligned action.
Yoga offers us the gift of meeting ourselves and gaining deeper clarity of who we are and who we want to be. Through practicing yoga, we’re showing up for ourselves and strengthening this connection. The same is true for living intentionally.
In other words, yoga helps us connect to ourselves and integrate what it means to be intentional. From this embodied place, we can move out in the world and practice living intentionally out there.
For Students of Yoga: Being Intentional in Our Practices
Like we are students of yoga, we are also students of life. Living intentionally means we connect with our core values and align our actions with them. It is not a practice of perfection but, of being very present. Just like we tumble out of balancing postures, we’ll flail around in life. Every situation is an opportunity to be the student, to learn, grow and pick ourselves up.
Setting an intention before your yoga practice can be a beautiful way to explore the intention in your body, mind, movement, experience and practice. For example, if you chose the “May You Know Kindness” card from the May You Know Joy card set, you may find yourself exploring questions like:
- How can I be kind to myself in my practice today?
- Is there an opportunity to be kind to my fellow students?
- Where is there kindness in this posture?
- What is the kindest thing I could do for myself in this moment?
- How can I be kinder to my body, mind and/or spirit?
Of course, you are all wise beings so, I imagine you can come up with many more rich questions. Many more opportunities to explore will also continue to arise through your practice.
After this beautiful exploration of intention on your mat, you can take this intention into the real world and explore what it means to be kind to yourself, to those around you, to your community and to the environment. Remember: intentional actions can be simple. They just need to be mindful. Sometimes just having a glass of water is being kind to yourself. Other times, the kindest thing may be to extract yourself from a toxic situation. There is no right or wrong here. It is a lifelong journey of choosing and being and activist for yourself.
Intention Setting for Yoga Teachers
Over the years, I’ve spoken to many teachers who use the May You Know Joy intention cards with their students. I want to share a few examples here to inspire you. However, I also encourage you to let your creative juices flow and to use them in ways that light you up.
First, I encourage you to use them for yourself. As a teacher, you may want to clear your energy before teaching. You may know a specific intention that you would like to align with for your class. For example, you may wish to be peaceful, you might want to be open or perhaps you are approaching today’s class with gratitude. Choose what’s in your heart. Alternatively, you can choose an intention card at random trusting that the card that shows up is meant for you.
Second, in using them with students, some teachers enjoy pulling a card to start the class. The May You Know Joy cards come with a companion booklet so, reading the related passage can be a beautiful way to focus the class and create a community intention to be explored throughout the practice.
Lastly, some teachers prefer to pull an intention card at the end of the class. After a great practice, it is a great way to send students into the world. Again, a card could be chosen on purpose. For example, if there is a specific intention you want them to take away – this is the perfect way to do that. Alternatively, a card can be chosen at random always trusting that the right message will come up.
Ideas for Yoga Retreat Leaders
For those of you running yoga retreats, there are so many delicious options for including intention cards and intention setting. Here are just a few suggestions as I imagine you can dream up many more:
- Intention cards make great gifts for your guests
- They can be used to create morning and evening practices
- Cards can be used in your daily yoga retreat practices
- They can be used for journaling and quiet self-reflection
- The cards are also a great catalyst for group work and mindful conversation
- Using the cards as part of a ritual can also be very transformative and powerful
Off the Mat and Into the World
Yoga means union. Intentional living is also union. Setting an intention is union with our core values and who we want to be in this world. From there, living intentionally is uniting our actions with these principles and creating a life that is mindful and whole. We are collecting all of the pieces of ourselves and our lives and doing what we can to create greater harmony.
I believe that yogis are already mindful so, this idea of intention setting can offer a new aspect to an existing yoga practice and it is also a great way to integrate true yoga into daily living.
To all the beautiful yogis out there, I wish you many intentional days filled with great joy!
If you want to use any of our card decks in your yoga classes, retreats or studio, please feel free to reach out. We’d love to collaborate with you. Contact our central e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org