Cultivate an Intention

By Lisa Barkin, Yoga Instructor

At the beginning of my yoga class I encourage my students to pause and cultivate an intention or “sankalpa” for their practice.

So what does this really mean?

In Sanskrit, (An ancient language of India, serving as the root of contemporary Asian and European languages ), “sankalpa” means intention. An intention is a promise you make to yourself about what you intend to do, be or say.

Formulating an intention at the beginning of your practice will quiet the mind of useless chatter, silencing the internal monologue that occupies your thoughts and consumes so much of your energy throughout the day. An intention is a way to put positive thinking and desires into action.

It is important to keep your intention simple, clear and concise. Just reflect on one thing throughout your practice. It is often said that we practice the qualities on the mat that we hope to attain in our lives off the mat. Tailor the intention to whatever it is you feel you need or want more of at that time. More balance, breath, flexibility, tolerance, compassion, patience, peace, etc… If you have difficulty thinking of an intention dedicate your practice to someone who needs your strength or love on that particular day. Quietly repeat your intention to yourself three times using as few words as possible and allow your intention or purpose to set the tone of your practice.

At the end of your practice come back to your intention, silently repeat it to yourself  and then carry it off the mat with you. Intentions open passageways for change, so see if you can take your breath or the peace you feel at the end of your practice into your day and keep it with you until the next time you are on your mat.

This blog post was originally posted by 889 Yoga on January 15, 2011.  To view all related comments click here