“All great acts are ruled by intention. What you mean is what you get!” – Brenna Yovanoff
“Nothing is more creative.... nor destructive... than a brilliant mind with purpose” – Dan Brown
“Our intention creates our reality” – Wayne Dyer
We hear wonderful quotes about intention and purpose, and we know how important is to live with those in our lives, but what about our Yoga practice?. Whether you are a Yogi seeking physical benefits or one that lives Yoga in a more holistic manner, setting an intention or a purpose before your session might prove to give you un-expected gains in your practice. This blog entry shares perspective and own personal experience about incorporating a “Purpose” or Intention setting at the beginning of the class to bring another dimension to the practice.
For me, the biggest roadblock for transformation is my self-imposed mental barriers driven mostly by the Ego. Letting go/Accepting/Changing/evolving is hard because we resist to it, our mind and our ego do a superb job in making the process of change or accepting/letting go a hard one to follow. But rest assured Yoga and meditation can help lowering the walls built by the ego enabling the flow of life and acceptance to take place if we set the intention for it.
I welcome intention setting before starting my practice for most of the times, it helps my mind to focus and also gives a deeper meaning to the way I live Yoga, for me, when performing a series of Asanas (postures) I start entering to a state of relaxation, a state when the never ending ego and mind slow down if I focus strong enough, on this state I am far more receptive to alternative forms of meditation and transformation & change, how is this? in my normal state, my mind & ego is constantly thinking creating a barrier for accepting many situations I am in creating roadblocks for personal & spiritual transformation, almost as if my mind is in a defensive state where change, acceptance, grief have no place, the mind would prefer to distract itself with my lifestyle which can be full of activities, things to go/do or even things to think about.
But when I practice the physical side of Yoga, my mind enters in a state where “constant thinking” could happen if allowed, but if I focus on my breath this constant thinking weakens, so, in my view, it is here when I open space for transformation, my defences lower and I can work with releasing anger, or working on accepting a situation, or open the gates of my heart and release emotions, there have been a few times when I have found myself crying, or when I have laughed, even I have allowed myself to feel anger; the magic thing is that when I allow those feelings to surface then they weaken and eventually disappear. I recall vividly to this point that it was at the end of a very vigorous Ashtanga practice when I realized I had to break an engagement 10 years ago, as tears rolled out of my eyes while lying down in Savasana I knew I had to do it. Of course, I don’t regret this decision, the complete opposite, a decade later every cell of my body knows I made the right decision. Perhaps without Yoga I would not have taken this courageous decision.
As a teacher, I seek to incorporate an intention often into my classes, and the intention is deep. I teach from my heart as I have experienced the healing power of Yoga beyond postures and as such I invite people to follow. Of course, this has raised a few eye brows! Especially from those ones new to my class, sometimes they look at me thinking “what? I didn’t come here to work on accepting anything... etc”, however, the majority by the end of the class feel the benefits of letting that intention work through their entire system.
Sometimes, it is just about allowing the intention or purpose to enter, that is the only job we must do, sometime it is about working harder to release deep seated emotions while your mental walls are down. This for me is transformation, as a Yoga teacher my responsibility is to create a space of transformation.
This might or might not be for you, but Yoga will work through all your systems (emotional, mental, physical and energetic), we know that Yoga is a body, mind and spirit practice, so why not letting do the job?
I quote the Yoga Sutra Patanjali: “Yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind, then there is abiding in the Seer’s own form”. When the mind is still we see things as they are, it is then when we can change, transform and evolve.
Thank you for reading. Comments welcome
As a Yoga teacher, I have looked to embrace and practice Yoga in a holistic manner, at times I have related more to a physical practice and at other times the practice of Yoga has become more of an internal spiritual work.
This blog entry will share how my yoga practice had to change & transform when I gave birth to my son 11 months ago; Yoga is a fluid practice which comprises philosophy alongside physical, emotional and mental aspects; when I became a mother, the physical aspect of my practice took a step back due to the fact that my body needed to heal, but also because Yoga philosophy served me more in helping me go through the emotional and mental transformations that a new mum experiences when caring for a baby, I found myself with low levels of energy due to the lack of sleep and lacking significant free time due to the demands associated to adjusting to a new lifestyle. Motherhood brings extreme feelings: extreme tiredness, extreme compassion, and a forever growing love that I did not know before I looked at my baby, motherhood also brings an enormous sense of responsibility knowing that I must care for a tiny human life, care for his development and nurture him to grow to be a realized young person/adult.
My view of Yoga has always been beyond the physical practice, for me, Yoga is not standing on my head but rather standing firmly with both feet in the ground, feeling like you belong to your body, allowing my mind to be in harmony with my actions, and most importantly, allowing me to feeling stable in the midst of change and chaos that can sometimes surround me. So, when I found myself to be in a situation where a lot of experiences were new to me I turned to Yoga for centering. Before the birth of my son I was admitted to hospital for 2 weeks with severe pre-eclampsia, during this time I had to share a lot of time with other women in similar situations like me, 3 of them really got impatient and felt so angry against the fact that they had to be in hospital that they begged the doctors to accelerate the process of giving birth resulting in low weight premature babies, I also felt the despair, the struggle to accept my situation, the typical “Why me?!” question, but I turned to Yoga and it helped me to allow the situation to flow, and in spite of being very ill, I was in good spirits and was always positive, which allowed me to take my son Sebastian to full term without the risks of a premature birth, not sure I would have been able to do this without my Yoga & meditation practice.
Becoming a mother is a big transformation, the biggest I have experienced so far, the independent life I led was replaced by a life with a different kind of responsibility, baby schedules, routines and unpredictability, transforming to this new life isn’t as easy as it might seem, so, I found myself having to do a lot of internal work to speed this process of adaptation and transformation, so how did yoga helped? Meditation, chanting and breathing became more prevalent in my life. I found myself chanting OM very often to my son and he loves it. In parallel I found myself reading far more the philosophy of Yoga, the depth of the teachings in the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita show the ever changing nature of life, the jumping nature of the mind and explains how Yoga can help the individual through these changes.
My meditation practice reminded me of the peace that comes when one control the breath, while doing this the Yoga teacher in me got reminded of the importance of learning easier ways to meditate, ways that will help the mind achieve a state of concentration needed to meditate and the steps to it, as a result I designed and ran a workshop on meditation using easier techniques which will be shared in future blog entries.
As my body healed I re-started my practice, but not alone anymore! I have a baby who enhances my yoga practice in a holistic manner!
I am still a new mother, I am still learning how to be a solid support to my son, and in the process, I am learning to let go of aspects of my old self to make space for the qualities that developed when nurturing a life.
I finish this blog entry with the following quote from B.K.S. Iyengar about embracing change.
Yoga is a fluid practice that needs to be adapted as the circumstances and demands on our lives change, if the body is exhausted (in my case due to sleep deprivation, but it can be due to any other causes) the best is to listen to it and do not push it hard, there is always internal work that needs to be undertaken with a stronger meditation or breathing practice.
Yoga teacher & Senior Scientist working full time with a major Multinational.