From establishing a regular practice to meeting a challenging situation, developing an asana or sharing yoga for the first time, everything we do finds a much brighter outcome when we take time to go inside before we begin. Through sitting, looking inward, and focusing on the breath, we can find that mindful intention that gives meaning to what we’re about to do.
I’ve recently been blessed with a healthy dose of Indonesian introspection, with my arrival in Bali fortuitously falling on the country’s annual day of silence. This mindful celebration invites the nation to regain its balance with each individual staying at home, reflecting on their values, a shut down of public services, and, of course, quiet time. What a beautiful opportunity to bring a little more meaning into our lives.
In order to set a considered intention we first need to seek out that grounded space within; here are a few ways I find useful.
I guarantee you’ll notice a huge difference in your practice if you spend a few minutes rooting yourself on your mat before you begin.
Sitting in padmasana or virasana, knees making contact with the earth, place your hands on your thighs, align the spine, find comfort in your body, and breathe. Enjoy long inhales and exhales for at least five minutes, more if you need a little more grounding.
This focus will both calm the mind and allow you to settle into ujjayi, allowing for a more effective practice. The heightened awareness also encourages you to respond to what your body really needs as you move into each pose, and you’ll be less susceptible to injury.
It’s easy to travel through our practice on automatic pilot, but are we actually finding the best of ourselves in each asana? Could we lengthen the spine a little more in forward bend, align the pelvis better in Virabhdrasana, or find a truer neutral in Samistitihi?
Awareness of how we move through each pose heightens our focus and allows us space to set several intentions, as and when the time is right for us to channel our energy into particular asanas.
Mindful shut down
A short meditation before switching off the light can transport anxious sleepers into peaceful dreams.
Try listening to a guided meditation, perhaps between ten and twenty minutes, and let your body and mind be calmed into a sleep ready state. If you’re particularly bothered by a thought, decision or feeling in the body, you might like to try honouring that knot. By acknowledging the difficulty and breathing into where it’s manifesting in the body, you can find a gentle release and peace of mind.
Do this every night in your bedroom, once you’ve switched off your devices, so it’s the very last thing you do before you tuck up.
The written word
Scribble down how you feel. Making a note of those things that stir something deep within will help you to know what prioritise.
Make a record of the warm sunshine in your day as well as the bolts of unexpected lightening. Recording these moments will enable you to focus on what you find important. Only make a note of those things that really affect you, and your jotter will organically filter out the irrelevant, bringing a focus to your life and resolutions for each new day.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with others, perhaps revealing what’s lying behind those tight hamstrings and closed hips, will help you set double strength intentions through the power of sharing.
Choose your listeners carefully, opening up to people who will really hear you without judgement, and your intentions will be held and supported on their way.
And remember, we’re all intimately connected on this journey and your happiness affects the whole universe, so be sure to set your intentions wisely.