A Guide to Finding Your Intention

We’re often asked to set an intention at the beginning of a yoga class. What, exactly, does this mean?

Often in yoga class we are asked to identify an intention for our practice that extends into the rest of the day. The word “intention” suggests that you have a plan or a goal that you aim to achieve, but at 6 a.m. I can barely keep my eyes open, let alone formulate an intention for my practice.

It was not until one recent class when the teacher guided us to dig deeper that it clicked for me. An intention is the legacy you leave when you find what is most important to you and start  living in accordance with that value. If you want to foster a legacy of peace, you intend to lead your life with a peaceful heart, mind, and attitude. If you want to lead a life of determination, you may intend to be resolute in your actions and thoughts. Intentions differ for each person and may change with each class, day, or year.

An intention is the legacy you leave when you find what is most important to you and start living in accordance with that value.

How do you identify intentions for your class, your day, your year, your life? In the search for your purpose and what truly matters to you, you need not look further than your own mind and heart, whether you’re setting an immediate, short-term, or life-long intention.

Immediate Intention

Whether you are waking up and thinking about your day or settling into yoga class, take a moment to close your eyes and get grounded by determining your immediate focus. Intentions such as balance, gratitude, or forgiveness suggest a theme of self reflection and improvement. Finding balance may mean taking breaks throughout your day to refresh. We tend to come down hardest on ourselves, and reflecting on forgiveness—toward both yourself and others—will open your heart and release any negative feelings.

Short-Term Intention

Similar to goals at work, setting intentions for your month or year can instill a sense of determination as well as gratitude. When focusing on what you want to achieve in the near future, it’s also important to honor where you are now, in the present. Establishing gratitude as an intention will help you concentrate on the people, work, and achievements you are grateful for and work toward your new goals while feeling at peace with your current situation.

Life-Long Intention

As your search for meaning and purpose continues throughout your life, you can hope to stumble upon the revelation of what your life-long intention is, or you can set your own path that inspires you to live your best life. When you look back on your life, your life-long intention is what truly mattered to you. It could be community, balance, peace—anything you deem core to your life’s values. If you desire to seek balance in every area of your life, striving to do so commits you to this intention. You may stray from your life-long intention at times, but finding your way back will ensure you are in accordance with your own dreams and goals.

While your intentions may vary during different times in your life, you may notice a general theme that traces back to your core values. Demonstrate actions on a daily basis that commit you to your intentions and watch how the effects of these actions help you become more grounded and find purpose in your life.

camCameron Cler is traveler at heart, obsessed with seeing the world and discovering ways to contribute to positive global change. As a registered yoga teacher, she balances her constant travel and work in the startup world by channeling her inner yogi and welcoming peace in chaotic moments. Her passion is cultivating creativity and inspiration while sharing travel stories, yoga classes, wellness tips, and smiles with her friends, family, and students.