Why We Set Intentions in Yoga and Meditation Practice
Updated: Jan 6, 2022
Research shows that considering and setting intentions can help us achieve goals more easily
Setting intentions in yoga or meditation strengthen the mind-body connection, but self-doubt can lead us to question whether we’re “doing it right.”
Starting with gratitude and considering the purpose of our practice can help us set intentions that align with our goals.
Intentions are often used in mindful practices such as yoga or meditation. They can manifest as a word or phrase that helps us align our mental and physical energy.
While there's no wrong way to set them, the concept itself can feel foreign. If we don't fully understand the purpose and effect of intentions, doubt can creep in as to whether we're using them correctly.
The Purpose of Setting an Intention
Intentions aren't exclusive to yoga or meditation practice. Research shows that goals are more often achieved when intentions are considered and set at the outset.
But during a mindful practice, intentions often play an important role in connecting the mind and body.
Setting an intention, I find, helps to focus on the things you do have control over, which is your energy, your focus. Often in my yoga classes or meditation sessions, I encourage my students to consider what their intention might be for class. I'm hoping that they're able to use that intention to anchor themselves during the practice because it's normal for the mind to wander off.
Setting an intention is a form of abstract thinking that utilises our more intuitive, open, and creative mind. Our ego can of course judge whether we are doing it right. When that inner saboteur kicks in, it can be difficult to shake those negative feelings, which can hinder performance and lead to more judgment and criticism. Self-doubt leads to self-fulfilling prophecies, if we don’t believe we can do something, we won’t achieve it. Try to cultivate self-compassion by telling that voice to step aside.
Setting an Intention
Focusing on gratitude or considering the reasons you’re practicing yoga or meditation, whether that’s stress-relief, working toward a larger goal or something else, can help you align with an intention. Examples I like to use are “I am calm and peaceful” or “I surrender my worries and fears” to bring mindful awareness to my practice.