Setting intentions for your practice


my yoga teacher often begins class by asking us to think about setting intentions, emphasising that it doesn’t have to be something challenging, more so it could be something that should be as straightforward as relaxing the jaw. I’ll often think about an invention, but then struggle to maintain it, particularly during a dynamic vinyasa flow or power class.

I guess it’s at least beneficial to be getting into that mindset of setting intentions to just be on your mat and think about where you want to focus your practice that day. So from that point of view it’s got to be beneficial to think in that way.

Do you set intentions for your classes whether prompted or unprompted? Are you able to sustain it throughout the class? Have you really benefitted or not from setting intentions? Have you been able to incorporate any of your intentions into everyday life? How has it made you feel?


I find the phrase 'setting an intention" quite pretentious, because all it seems to mean really is 'think about why you’ve adopted a yoga practice & why you want to be on the mat on any given day. Since the changes yoga generates occur on the spiritual, physical & mental planes, whether we want those changes or not, it is necessary to think about what one wantsfrom a yoga practice ratger than any otger firm if physical activity. Through ‘intentions’ or increased awareness about why one is in a yoga class, one begins to think about what the reasons are behind any activity performed in the course of one’s daily life, and that is a very good thing indeed. The positive benefits from yoga begin to spread to the rest of one’s life & then to the wider world beyond. That’s the theory anyway & it’s definitely been the case for me.


I do like when teachers suggest intentions… it makes me reflect on what’s important to me. In general, I like to have the intention of exploring limitations within my body and pushing the boundaries to see where they take me, with poses, meditation and pranayama.


I agree. I like the introspective aspects of ‘checking in’ with my mind and body through setting intentions when I arrive oh the mat. In our busy day to day lives it can be difficult to take this time especially if the mind is still racing from what’s gone on before practice. I’d not intentionally over think an intention, more so as a means of using it to inform what I’d like to get out of my practice on that day. Listening and responding through simple actions. Thanks both for your feedback.


Thank you for asking the question about “intentions.” Being relatively new to yoga I have heard teachers say “set an intention” without knowing exactly what they meant. I was just trying to follow along without hurting myself or looking like a fool. I guess creating an intention is like my brain asking me, “what are you doing?” Maybe I’d better sit down and consider the real purpose of my actions. Damn, another learning experience!


Personally I like it when the class begins with a reminder to set an intention. It does change daily but for me it’s usually a reminder to tell myself that whatever happens on the mat is good enough. That if I fall during a balance or can’t achieve a certain pose, that it’s alright. That I am good enough. It helps me to look inward and and tune out the world for that precious amount of time.


I set intentions for class almost every time whether prompted or unprompted. For me, I find it easy to just let the intention lie and manifest itself as it will throughout the class; I do not force it to come or go. The reason I do not consciously do one or the other is related to how I choose intentions; in opening meditation, what my intention needs to be will often come to me - or my lack of intention (sometimes I am not so inspired). Generally, how my intentions get incorporated into everyday life is a bit different; because I often do yoga before bed, I usually take them to sleep with me. It has made my dream life a lot calmer and has given me a sense of grounding because I often wake up and remember my intention from the day before when I wake up and can live into whatever it was.


I like to set an intention. It makes me more mindful throughout the day. Sometimes my intention is simply to be positive throughout the day. Smile more. It can be tough living in a busy overcrowded city. Other times my intention may be aimed at a more physical thought, be gentle with my yoga practice, don’t push my body when it is not ready.


I’m just getting back into my practice and I’ll admit I hadn’t thought of setting intentions at the start of practice yet. It’s a lovely idea, so I’m going to take a few moments to do this from now on. I find setting an intention is also a really good way to get centred before proceeding into something, whether it be your work day, your event, your yoga practice, a run. It’s good to bring your focus and attention to one point for a moment.