At the beginning of a yoga class, your teacher might hold space for you to set an intention, or sankalpa. In Sanskrit, “kalpa” translates as vow and “san” translates as a connection with the highest truth. An intention allows one to bring personal meaning and depth into a yoga practice. If you are given an opportunity to set an intention and cannot think of one, instead, it might serve you to dedicate a practice to a person or cause that is important to you.
When I experienced my first yoga class, my yoga teacher invited the students to set an intention. I thought to myself, “I am obviously here to get a workout!” I was curious what everyone was thinking during this moment of silence. This was a time when my yoga practice was purely physical. With time and guidance from my teacher, I realized how powerful an intention can truly be. This was when yoga became more than a workout, but a “work in.”
If intentions are unfamiliar to you, you might be wondering how to come up with one. First, it is essential to avoid beginning an intention with a negative such as, “I don’t want to be” or “I am not.” Instead, be positive and frame your intentions around what you are, what you welcome, or what you are capable of. Second, do not confuse your intention with a goal. To clarify, a goal has a concrete outcome whereas an intention carries you thoughtfully through a process. An intention sets a state of mind that empowers and guides you to a greater purpose.
When we learn to be mindful and intentional throughout a yoga class, this often translates in other areas of our life. We may not have control over many things in this human experience, but we do have control over how we choose to respond or react. An intention will help guide our experiences and influence our choices.
Intentions will organically arrive to you if you listen to your heart, trust your gut, and take the role of observer. Everyone has their own unique journey and life experiences, making the possibilities of intentions so expansive. Take some time to reflect and make a vow to support you and your highest truth. What intention will guide you today?