Often at the beginning of yoga class as the instructor is guiding everyone through a warm-up, they will say in a soft, soothing voice “As we begin class, connect with your intention.” I love yoga, but I used to dismiss this line as complete New Age mumbo-jumbo, thinking to myself as I pushed into downward facing dog pose, “Pfft! What does that even mean? I intend to practice yoga!”
But one day during a class that was particularly slow to start, I found myself getting a little bored and I began to consider that statement more closely: connect to your intention.
What is intention? We’re probably all familiar that intention means an act with purpose or aim. But intention can be much more! Intention by itself is not all that powerful or influential. Frequently, the problem is not a lack of intention but lack of awareness of your intention. When you are aware of your intention, when you connect to it mindfully, that is when intention has the strongest influence on your motivation, your frame of mind, and your demeanor.
Intention can be used almost as a filter, sifting out the thoughts or behaviors that aren’t serving your aim and helping you focus on what’s most important to you. Maintaining a strong connection with your intent will help you think and act in alignment with it, manifesting in the change you want to see in your life.
For example, if your intention is to be healthier and show yourself more love but you only give it thought every January 1st, are you going to see that change happen? Absolutely not. If instead you find yourself in your third hour of binge-watching shows on Netflix and think, “How is this serving my intention? It’s not. Okay, maybe I should do something better for my body today”, you are connecting with your intention and are more likely to see that change become a reality!
Connecting to your intention is also a valuable way to affect change, not just behaviorally, but cognitively as well. So many of us get caught up in cycles of self-deprecating, self-doubting thoughts that serve little purpose. Taking a moment to think about what your intention is and checking in if these thoughts are serving your intention can be enough to put you on a healthier train of thought. You’ll drift back to unhelpful thoughts but continually reconnecting with your intent will help you rein yourself back to center and eventually you’ll wander less frequently.
To set an intention is helpful as a first step but takes little effort and alone rarely produces meaningful results. Checking in with or connecting with your intention regularly takes considerably more effort and is a frequently overlooked but influential component of change. Harnessing your intention can put you on the path to the life you’ve always wanted for yourself.
So go forth and connect with your intention!