Sankalpa: The Power of Intention in Yoga

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Any yogi has certainly heard this from their yoga teacher at some point:

“Take a moment and set your intention for class.”

I’m asking my students the same and have heard this sentence in almost every Jivamukti class. But what does this actually mean?

Our intention at the beginning of class and our intention for our yoga or meditation practice is a seed we plant. It’s not exactly a goal, it’s not exactly a purpose, but rather an aim—a direction toward which the energy generated in our practice flows. After all, we are dealing with prana, life force energy, in yoga, and prana directed in a certain way can remove blockages, release tension, and bring about change in all areas of our life.

When practicing Ashtanga every day last year, I set my intention to use the practice as a way to release my karma. Any kind of karma. A mishap in a crystal healing treatment in India, which left my energy all over the place and myself quite shaken, had me intensely focused in my yoga practice. Yoga was the only way I could bring my energy back into place and release karma so that this misaligned energy would not happen again.

Over the years, I had different intentions for different purposes, but last year marked a shift that was “all or nothing” for me. What I didn’t know at that time was that the practice of Ashtanga (the eight-limbed path of yoga) would lead me exactly along the path of the yoga sutras, namely leaving the asanas (the third limb) behind and going deep into meditation (the seventh limb).

With an intention, we channel our energy like a river in one direction or the other. Where we reap its benefits depends on where we’re directing our intention—like water given to a plant.

 

Read the full article on elephant journal.

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