A well balanced and intentional yoga practice can leave you stronger, and you might feel more at home in your own skin; maybe you develop confidence or the willingness to try new things and deepen your practice. Perhaps you cultivate patience, and you become more mindful and aware of the moment. Falling on your face a few times in Crow Pose may give you a safe way to experience vulnerability, which may in turn beget compassion. These individual positive changes add up. One at a time, they combine to help you become your best self.
These changes on an individual level are how you change the world.
Sounds big, right? But that's how yoga works. The Dalai Lama says, “World peace must develop from inner peace.” Big changes happen one person at a time, starting with you. On the mat you learn to be confident, happy, kind, loving, and compassionate. You begin to understand how to quiet the unnecessary chatter and clear out the mental clutter, how to think a little more on a community or universal level rather than on an individual level.
Time on the mat allows you to find a powerful combination of strength and compassion, and the mental clarity to decide what to do with it. That's part of setting an “intention” for your practice. Choosing to focus your potential on something that matters to you; meditating upon your deepest values and the way you interact with your surroundings. Perhaps ask yourself, if I were my best self, what qualities would I cultivate and express? If the answer is scarily big or seemingly small, go with it. And as you move through your practice, rather than let your mind wander to grocery lists and to-dos, think instead of your intention. Let it be the how and why of your practice. This builds self-discipline, endurance, and gives you a positive and purposeful yoga practice.
Dare to set an intention; ask yourself why you come to your mat. Yoga is a practice. What are you practicing? What are you strengthening, and why? What qualities do you wish to cultivate and share on and off your mat?
Setting intentions to be more caring, less reactive and combative; more mindful, engaged and committed; loving and generous; grateful and forgiving – these qualities will show up in your interactions off the mat. When you tap into your power and understand your potential on the mat, you are filled with the confidence and compassion in your day-to-day life to set meaningful goals in line with your best intentions.
As you breathe in empowerment and strength, repeat to yourself, what CAN I do? And as you breathe out compassion and humility and resolve, ask, what WILL I do? For yourself, your family, community, and society: resolve to practice with purpose and intention.