INTENTION: Your Golden Egg For Change
Intention: Your Golden Egg for Change
During asana, by simple and conscious movement linked with breath, yoga teaches the language of healing and care to body and mind. Powerful reactions take place, and with time yoga becomes a full body-mind-spirit expression. While it often takes years to integrate this into our lives, the physical, non-physical, and metaphysical medicine of yoga can affect profound change.
Many yoga sessions – public and private – start by offering the yogi a time to set their intention or wish for practice. It’s not too early to begin setting the intention well before class even while traveling to a session or working at home.
An intention can be flexible and something we aim to achieve or it can be deliberate and specific. A simple yet achievable intention would be to give 100 percent effort on every back strengthening asana.
At another time, a general intention is to repeat a chosen mantra, focus on ujjayi breathing, dedicate the class to someone in our lives, or surrender cares to the goal of full presence in the moment.
When my uncle died, a former coach and teacher, my purpose was to commemorate and honor his memory by doing the very best I was capable of while on my mat for one hour. I called him by name before I started, and I thought of him with each breath. I thought of his keen eye and stern face as a witness to my practice. It was not my goal to be perfect in asana, but to be perfect in my commemoration by giving my best that day.
In another case, when someone dear to me was in crisis, I put their name on my lips and did asana with a heightened sense of remembrance, humility, and somberness. They were front and center in my consciousness; I took their burden into my breathcentric practice, and I gave it to the Universe.
When we set an intention, the mental challenge is to stay in focused awareness. That’s why an intention is only for a concentrated time. It seems simple, but staying intentional and focused is not easy; yet intention and focus is a key to yoga and a way to still our hyperactive minds.
Asana is rich with the truth that intention matters because the seeds of change are planted in every intentional breath, thought, and action. The results from our mindful intentionality may affect others at some time in the future, but that is not the goal, and it will happen if we have been changed. This effects all our relationships.
We can’t heal the world, but we start with the one small self that is me, a self that is connected to all. If the grieving or the struggling people we know sense solidarity from us, it’s a positive byproduct of our intention.
Often, a change in our behavior or decision making is started as a way to change something about us we’ve outgrown. In these cases, applying ourselves to an intention is an act of will and opens us to newness. Performing an act of will always effects a change, even when we can’t see it.
In yoga, we choose to work from deliberate intention; at our best, our minds translate the intention into embodied movement through asana. Eventually, this yoga energy exchange communicates to the core of our lives and we are moved. We become living aspects of truth-force, if only for ourselves.
When truth force allows us to see and accept ourselves more for whom we really are, it often leads to a change in the way we treat others and when our intentions become embodied during yoga practice, they may affect a change beginning with the body and then aligning with with our lives.
We may experience an awakening about ourselves; this awakening is at the core of a yoga practice. We become aware of our illusions and begin to see how avidya – wrong perception – has been hindering us. The entire second section in The Yoga Sutras is about misperception.
Because yoga-trained minds become more present and aware of their living environments, the yogi may start a mindful diet and become more aware of cleanliness for their bodies. They may decide to work for the local community, care for children and the infirmed, or offer service to the family and nation-state. They may begin asking questions about ethical issues or care for the earth in ways they previously had not.
These new choices are not imposed on us from an outer authority; rather, they’re a natural and predictable blueprint of yoga’s design. These blueprints, discovered in the intention, translation, and application of yoga, gradually alter our ethics which may change the shape and purpose of our lives.
Paying attention to cues that arise in yoga, the yogi learns from their deepest self how to live for others. Step by step, through intention and awareness, the yogi is the beneficiary of good change through application of yoga’s great design.
The yogi translates this new language into core personal change by simple and intentional body movement, breath, and awareness. The new language of intention and change is written with the alphabet of wisdom and healing. It’s an alphabet we do well to learn.
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