As a practicing yogi or yogini, I’m sure you’ve come across a teacher that starts the class telling you to “Set your intention for the practice”. I can’t emphasize how important is this, so let me dive in with my personal experience.
Starting out as a newbie practicing yoga, I came with a curious mind to learn with every practice. I always come with an open heart but also wanted to ‘conquer’ asanas that seemed impossible to me, pushing myself to the very limit every time to ensure the class wasn’t ‘wasted’ to me.
As the practice took me deeper, I was exposed to hot classes as well as arm balances and inversions. I became obsessed to conquer it, my mindset also gradually moved to become competitive and demanding with myself. With every class I went, I always wanted to ‘be the best’ and wanted certain asanas to be done, giving myself an excuse within that I only have that limited amount of time where my body is at its peak before it cools down again. I would also challenge myself to go back to back classes without rest.
What was the intention I set every time? To push myself to the limit, give it my all.
Whenever a certain asana I demanded wasn’t practiced by the teacher, It would leave me feeling down and disappointed. I couldn’t care less about other asanas during the practice, my gaze and breath aren’t controlled, I was not consciously correcting my alignments. I was only focused on difficult peak poses such as Bakasana etc.
This mindset and intention backfired right back at me, which threw me into negativity after practices. It affected my emotions badly and made me question my ability whenever I cannot do certain asanas. This also took a strain on my body as fatigue sets in, my practice quality suffered, I was feeling sore almost every day.
This went on for months, and as I dove deeper into the love of yoga and gaining knowledge from fellow yogis/yoginis, I started to relook into my actions, my flaws, my emotions. At the same time, I started meditating as well. With that, it has taught and changed me so much as a person, I learn to listen to my body more and always practice with an open heart and open mind. Every asana, no matter how simple it is, is a step to growth.
What’s my intention now? I am aware of my body and mind, I am grateful for all that I’ve learned.