Setting an intention or dedication for your yoga practice acts like a metaphor to translate your practice off your mat and into your life. It is a vehicle that makes yoga an aspect of your lifestyle, rather than something you do just for exercise.
Intention is different from dedication, which I’ll distinguish because it’s important to understand the purpose behind this practice.
An intention is bringing your attention and awareness to a quality or virtue you wish to cultivate for your practice both on and off of your mat. Some examples of qualities or virtues you might use as your intention include: patience, gratitude, grace, being present in the moment, awareness of breath, love, forgiveness, letting go, releasing negativity, being open to receive, inner strength, or peacefulness.
By setting an intention you are building a bridge between what you work through on your mat, and what you continue to focus your mind on when you step off of your mat. This intention is a powerfully energetic tool to take your practice into the world.
In addition, as you continue to focus on your intention, even after class has finished, you uplift your energy and increase your vibration, thereby acting as an example to inspire the lives of those you encounter.
You are expressing your authentic truth by embodying this energy and keeping it with you.
Separate from intention, a dedication is the conscious decision to send positive energy to someone or something other than yourself, that inspires or motivates you to stay present on your mat.
By dedicating your practice to someone or something, you share the positive energy that you cultivate on your mat with the community and world around you, thereby making the world a more peaceful, loving, joy-filled place, one person at a time. Dedication for your practice can be to a friend or family member, an idea or concept you’re working on, or to a God or higher power that inspires you.
The Buddha says, “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
By sending your positive energy out to your dedication, that positivity is not diminished for yourself. In fact you may feel lighter, brighter, freer and more energized from sharing your practice with your dedication.
If there’s something in your life that is challenging you in some way, I suggest dedicating your practice to that person or situation. Sending light and love to circumstances in your life that have caused discomfort may help to alleviate the negative energy connected to that person or situation. This in turn, creates an opportunity for growth and self-acceptance, overcoming the obstacles in life that you will continue to encounter.
The beauty behind an intention or dedication for your practice is that you will manifest and call forth into your life, that which you’ve set in your mind and in your heart as your point of focus. By returning to the energy of this focus throughout your yoga practice, you will train yourself to stay committed to that intention or dedication while off of your mat as well.
I believe that positivity profoundly outweighs negativity. Start paying attention and perhaps you’ll notice powerful changes in your life through this practice.
Next time you step on your mat, take the time to choose wisely the intention or dedication for that class. Keep that it in your mind and in your heart, feel the vibration of this energy within you, and share it outwardly with the world. Know that you’re doing something to enrich your own life and positively impact the energy of everyone and everything around you.