Setting An Intention

San-kalpa

Sanskrit for intention:  San - Connection with our highest truth;  Kalpa – Vow. A promise we make to support our highest truth.

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At the start of your Alchemy Hot Yoga class, the teacher may have you breathe in and take a moment to set your intention for the next hour. What exactly does that mean, and how do you go about setting an intention, or sankalpa?

 

Quite simply, an intention is an affirmation, word, or phrase that can invoke a shift in your mindset and bring mental clarity to help you focus on your practice. In effect, it will help you clear your mind of negative-speak and make you present and focused during the hour.

 

But, according to Gaiam, setting an intention is so much more than that. Setting an intention during your practice is a way “to stay in touch with the core values you wish to live by.” In other words, an intention is a quality that rings true for you personally that you can grow and cultivate during your time on – and off – the mat.

 

Yoga Journal experts say that an intention comes from your heart, not from your brain. When you set an intention with your brain it is more like a goal or something to accomplish; whereas, using your heart speaks more in terms of love, kindness, and bliss.

 

Some days you may come to your yoga class exhausted, and you simply want to survive the class. Take the time to set an intention that turns your awareness to thoughts such as “I am strong” or “I can” and you may find that you feel stronger and more confident. Imagine the feeling at the end of the class when you not only survive, but you finish strong! Now, imagine taking that intention into the rest of your life and how empowered you will feel.

 

When the teacher gives you the cue to set your intention, try the following:

 

  • Focus on your breath and the beating of your heart.

  • Let the day melt away and turn your awareness inward.

  • Ask yourself what it is that you want from this practice (and/or your life).

  • Keep it positive.

  • Keep it personal.

 

You may look for something you want from life, such as “confidence,” or you may look for something you think is missing in your life, like “peace.” Whatever calls to you on a particular day may not be the same the next time you step on your mat. Just as you grow and change over time, so too can your intention.

 

There may be times when nothing comes to mind, and that is fine too! Don’t panic that you don’t have an intention. Just be with your breath and your movement, and enjoy the time you have set aside for yourself.

 

 

If you want some ideas to help get you started with your intention, try a couple of these sankalpa examples in your yoga practice:

 

Phrases:

  • I am perfect.

  • I am grateful.

  • I am full of life.

  • I can create magic.

  • I am alive.

  • I am loved.

  • I am strong.

 

Words:

  • Focus.

  • Peace.

  • Power.

  • Love.

  • Gratitude.