Still unsure about your New Year’s resolutions? Why not take advantage of the New Year to set intentions instead…
Sacred Indian text and Gandhi’s favourite book, the Bhagavad Gita (translation: celestial song), advises yoga practitioners not to be attached to the outcomes of their actions, but to focus on honest effort in the present moment instead.
In a similar way, setting intentions at the start of a yoga practice or indeed the new year shifts the focus from the achievement of future goals to an ongoing mindfulness in the present moment. It’s a subtle change of focus, but bringing our aspirations into the now can be empowering. It could also make them more achievable. Swami Sivananda used to say, “where your attention goes, Prana (your life force, or energy) flows.” In other words before you know it, your future actions will grow from your thoughts in the present moment.
How to set an intention?
Practising yoga allows us to find a quiet space of stillness in the mind. It is within these spaces that we are able to see through the daily hubbub, reconnect with our true selves and recommit to what we value most. Very often, in taking quiet time to set an intention at the start of a yoga practice, the intention that is right for you then and there will reveal itself without any need to search for it or force it out.
An intention could be as simple as a single word or concept such as ‘belief’ or ‘forgiveness’, or an approach towards practising the poses, such as focussing on the breath or staying present in the pose. It could be to remember why you practise yoga. As you move into different poses, you can return to your intention and recommit to it. And in return, it can inspire you through difficult poses and bring you back to the moment when you get distracted.
Taking it off the mat
Once you have focussed on your intention through a yoga practice, the next step is to carry that awareness with you into your day, to come back to it as an inspiration when things become difficult, something to ground you in what you value most in times when it’s easy to lose your connection.
Happy New Year!