intention

  • Don’t Just Do Yoga; Feel Yoga

    meditation

    When I first started practicing yoga, it was all about doing yoga. I was at yoga to get sh*t done. I approached the mat like I approached the starting blocks of a sprint. I was an all business, poker faced, tough-nut-to-crack yoga newbie. Once the OMMMMMs went off, I was ready to beast through that stream of asana and breath and, if all went well, cross the finish line with strength and some grace. At this stage in my journey, I was mostly doing yoga. I wasn’t really feeling it.

    I was sprinting through the practice, missing out on the scenery of the flow. I robotically did the asana, inhaled and exhaled, and chanted foreign vibrations when commanded, but I didn’t really feel any of it and if I did, I wasn't very aware of what I was feeling. I didn’t feel the postures, the breath pulsating through my entire being facilitating the physical openings and closings, and the powerful inputs and outputs generated by creating and receiving high vibrations. It all went over my head…instead of through my heart.

    This was okay. The more visceral, abstract elements of yoga aren’t always the initial appeal for people. At least they weren't for me.

    I think many of us come to the practice to do asana - the physical element - and soak up the benefits. We’ve heard only good things about the practice from strangers, family, friends, etc. We’ve witnessed various yogis flipping their bodies upside down and twisting into cringe-worthy shapes, displaying strong, sculpted physical bodies. Maybe we’ve noticed that our yoga-practicing acquaintances have changed, acquiring a fresh, seemingly mysterious sense of calm in lieu of their former neurotic, baggage-heavy selves. And that gets us thinking: Hey, what’s up with this yoga thing? After ruminating on it, we finally say: I’m gonna do yoga.

    And we do...

    At first, it is about the doing, but eventually the switch is ignited and a flame is lit. Eventually, you feel it. You feel that deep sense of integration and fluidity – that union with all. You feel that heightened sense of awareness – that lifted state of consciousness. You feel elevated. You feel yoga.

    Looking back at my yoga beginnings, my practice really was a metaphor for my life. What was going on mat-side, was also going on beyond the mat. I was mostly just doing life, running through the motions like I was racing through a sprint. All the while, I was missing out on the scenery. While I was highly emotional (we all are), I was completely out of touch with my feelings. I had no idea how much I was feeling. And if I was feeling something, I had no idea how to accurately describe or even label it. I know that yoga, among other outlets, cracked open my tough shell. Yoga opened me up to feeling on the mat, which opened me up to feeling in my life.

    If you’re at the doing stage of yoga, keep doing. If you keep up with the doing, the yoga will start doing work on you. If you keep doing yoga, the feeling part will inevitably surface. You don't really have to wait though. You already have it in you to feel yoga - to feel the effects of the postures, to feel the breath simultaneously expanding and grounding you, to feel the vibrations exciting your soul. You have it in you to feel it, if you can just be receptive to the feeling of it. If not today, yoga will eventually crack open your shell. It's only a matter of time.

  • Seeds of Intent: Embrace Fear

    Fear...

    embracing fear

    Fear exists for a reason. Fear serves a purpose. It exists to keep you alive. Really alive. It serves as the gatekeeper that you must pass through in order to experience new possibilities, evolve, and elevate your consciousness.

    Unfortunately, fear gets a bad rep. The tendency is to shy away from it and stay put in security. Sure, that's a natural response. It's reasonable to want to feel comfortable and protected. Yet too much comfort and too much protection result in zero challenge and zero growth.

    Resist the urge to evade fear. Instead, embrace it. Tackle it on and off the mat. Treat it as a catalyst to elevate your vibe and realize your potential for greater happiness.

    Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Go get it.

  • Seeds of Intent: Life goes on…go with it!

    Change is always in the air. Our external worlds are constantly changing. Our internal worlds are constantly changing. Friendships, romantic relationships, family dynamics, careers, lifestyles, thoughts, and seasons…everything is constantly in flux. The mat is a metaphor or a microcosm of this inevitable, natural change. The practice is a constantly evolving practice. Every time you hit your mat, it is a new beginning – a practice unlike the former and a practice dense with new possibility and challenge. Similarly, each day you rise is a new beginning – a day unlike the former and a day inherent with fresh possibility and challenge.

    dancer pose

    Without this change, life would be in a sorry state of stagnation. No risk. No reward. No challenge. No adventure. No growth. When we try to force our lives to be one way – when we resist adaptation and latch on to security and expectation – we do ourselves a huge disservice. Life will keep going and time will keep ticking, whether you decide to go with it or not. Life will persist to forge ahead, leaving you in stuck in dust; stuck, but not stranded. You can pick up and go with life whenever you wish.

    The choice is yours. You can settle for a life of consistency, stagnation, mediocrity, and boredom. Or you can flow with the natural order of things. You can surrender to change. You can go with life. You can realize a life rich with risk, adventure, reward, challenge, and growth.

    Don’t blow up in the face of change, yogis. Embrace it. Go with it. On the mat and off.

  • Seeds of Intent: Sculpt Positive Thoughts

    "Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be." ~Henry David Thoreau

    positive thoughts

    Your thoughts are energy. As energy, they have the power to create, alter, heal, and destroy. Thoughts can guide you to beautiful mental realms – realms of success, peace, fortune, health, happiness, and love. Thoughts can steer you down dark mental corridors – corridors of stagnation, fear, sickness, failure, negativity, and worthlessness. Thoughts can completely rewire your brain, re-sculpting its perspective and conditioned set point. Thoughts have the power to take you wherever you want to go whenever you want to go there, but not without consequence.

    Thoughts are actions. Certain actions yield certain results. In other words, you reap what you sow. Sow and sculpt positive thoughts and positive energy will follow. Sow and sculpt negative thoughts, and you’re bound to be on the receiving end of some negative energy.

    The first step in sculpting positive thoughts requires that you actually observe your thinking mind to gain heightened awareness of thought patterns that perhaps aren’t serving you. This can be done via mindfulness exercises, pranayama exercises, meditation, or just by the very act of engaging in more yoga.

    Once you realize your negative loops of thought (called samskaras in yoga), you can begin doing the necessary work to break free from conditioned habitual habits of thought and behavior.

    In yoga, there is a formula for breaking free from unhealthy samskaras. The process requires re-sculpting your thoughts. It is called sankalpa, meaning will, determination, or purpose. A sankalpa is an intention, a resolution, or a resolve that is practiced to unite with and realize your highest potential. The intention can be a simple one, such as gratitude, breath awareness, or surrender. Once you have it set, you thread this intention throughout all your thoughts, words, and actions. This practice ultimately awakens your inherent goodness - your true nature. It allows you to tap into your deep inner power and strengths, which many of us often struggle to realize and utilize.

    You can completely change your world by replacing negative thought patterns with positive, self-supporting ones. It’s a simple formula, though the change doesn't happen over night. Meaningful change requires dedication, work, and endless practice. Also, for an intention to work, you must not only firmly set it and diligently practice it; you must have faith in it. You must sincerely believe in it and your ability to manifest it.

    The practice of sankalpa is one of mindfulness and awareness. Keep coming back to this idea throughout your week. Observe your thoughts. Where are they taking you? Do you really want to go there? If not, try to tackle the underlying reason for going there. What’s getting you stuck in these negative loops of thought? Where would you rather go? Practice going there. Practice sculpting positive thoughts to create the person you truly want to be.

    For a simple exercise in observing your thinking mind, check out this free online yoga offering - Meditation 101 - with Ashley Turner.

  • Good Vibes: 10 Quotes on Intention

    intentions

    Intention.

    This word gets thrown around a lot in the yoga practice: Set an intention. Wrap your practice in an intention. Be clear with your intentions. What's your intention?

    I think it's one thing to set an intention. It's a totally different thing to actually practice that intention - to weave it through your thoughts and actions - and to unwaveringly believe in it. Setting an intention (or Sankalpa in Sanskrit) is fairly simple stuff. All you have to do is make some statement of what you wish to manifest. The stuff that comes after this part is hard work, requiring endless reiteration, unshakable faith, and a resolve to surrender. In the end, all that repetition and work will present results. Sure, the results may not be exactly what you expected or envisioned. Yet, the universe will surely deliver in some shape or form. Make no doubt about it.

    1. "In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent, and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link." ~Carlos Castaneda

    2. "Intention is the core of all conscious life.

      Conscious intention colors and moves everything." ~Master Hsing Yun

    3. "Intention is paramount." ~Arno Burnier

    4. "Intentions compressed into words enfold magical power." ~Deepak Chopra

    5. "Our intention creates our reality." ~Wayne Dyer

    6. "All that spirits desire, spirits attain."

      ~Kahlil Gibran

    7. "The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen." ~Frank Lloyd Wright

    8. "It is the intention that moves energy." ~Unknown

    9. "A good intention clothes itself with power." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    10. "Although actions may speak louder than words,

      it is our intentions that reveal our soul." ~Hal Elrod

     

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