Monday, May 24, 2010

setting an intention for yoga class?

Here in Chicago, it can be customary to walk into a yoga class which begins with the teacher asking students to "set an intention for your class today."

Hmmm. What does this mean, exactly? Growing up Catholic, I'm familiar with the idea of setting a lofty intention for the day (so ambitious that it's almost impossible to keep), bringing a special intention to God during a Mass, offering prayers for the intention of another person . . . lots and lots of focused intention.

But in the context of yoga, the idea of setting an intention is intriguing, if it can go beyond the obvious: I want to stretch my muscles, I want to ease the pain in my lower back, I want to get a good workout, I want to chill out . . . .

Once you've become bored by the obvious intentions that may have brought you to yoga in the beginning, what next?

One way to think about yoga is as a moving meditation, a prayer that comes not from the mind, but from the body. In that context, your body might have an intention for yoga practice that it hasn't even revealed to you yet. Your mind may be the last to know!

In setting an intention for your next yoga class, try asking your body what it wants. The answer might surprise you.

Are you familiar with the bookending device of setting an intention for yoga classes you teach or attend? How has this practice affected you? And, care to share an intention or two?

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