We talk a lot about intention in yoga. It’s like putting your plan together. “I intend to take care of myself today”, “I intend to keep my spine straight this morning”, “I intend to be on time”.
But the even more important part of intention is follow through. So when your teacher says jump forward and your intention was to respect how you feel, if your spine isn’t ready, you walk. Or when you get that invitation but are exhausted from everything else, you don’t over commit. You decline politely. Not always easy following through. So here are 5 ways to help.
First, keep it simple. You’ll stay focused more easily and focus = success just about every time.
Second, keep intentions manageable. An intention to practice 3 times a day may seem like a good idea. But after a week, other parts of your life and your body, may suffer. Be realistic about your needs and capabilities.
Third, make them easy to observe. If you can see progress and results, you are more likely to continue. For example, intend to meditate one minute 3 times a week for a 2-week period rather than 1 hour right off the bat without any further commitment. Walk before you run and track your progress.
Let intentions come from your heart. Get still for a moment and ask yourself what you need. Then ask why. Listen to what your heart tells you. Following your heart is almost never a bad idea.
Practice. Intentions give voice to our inner goals. But there is that outer world with a voice too. If you allow that voice to drown yours, i.e. you say yes when you know a “no” serves you better, don’t’ abandon ship. Take a deep breath and remind yourself why you set the intention in the first place. You deserve to try again.
My dad used to say, “The road to you know where (we were not allowed to say hell) is paved with good intention”, meaning intention is meaningless unless you have follow through. Try these 5 ways to let your intentions lead you to wonderful places in your practice and your life.