When I start teaching a yoga class, I usually guide my students to consider their intent for the class. Another way to put it is, “Why are you here?” I throw out a few suggestions…

“Maybe you’re here to feel more relaxed in day to day life, or maybe you simply want to be more mindful of a sore shoulder as we work today.”

I leave my students to then consider and set their own intent. It’s very open-ended and something they keep to themselves. And at the end of class, I ask them to bring it back to mind and think about whether they feel it was met, has shifted, or if it was forgotten after the first few minutes. There’s no good or bad answer. It’s just something to consider.

Our intentions are not always apparent, though. Why are we doing what we’re doing? Are we at class because we paid for a set of classes? Are we there because we needed to get out of the house…or away from someone? Maybe we’re in class but it’s the last place we actually want to be in that moment. Maybe we’re feeling tired or like we might be coming down with something, and are actually wondering whether or not we should have even come. These motivations are actually just as valid as showing up to stay in shape or to cultivate a quiet mind. It is just as important how we’re showing up as it is why.

To get you thinking out of the box, here are some ways you might answer that question for yourself at the start of your own practice:

  • I love how I feel after a workout. I want to feel great!
  • I intend to burn some calories and lose some weight.
  • I want to be gentle with myself tonight. I’ve been pushing too hard.
  • I’m really worried about _____. I just want to forget for an hour.
  • I want to keep my word to myself. I said I’d be here tonight.
  • I really want to honor my edges tonight. I noticed last week I always push beyond them.
  • I feel some pain or weakness in my _____. I need to stay aware of it even if it means backing out of a pose.
  • I want to feel my own strength.
  • Tonight, I’m going to use props just to see how the poses feel different.
  • I’m going to remember to breathe fully throughout the practice tonight.
  • I feel like crap and I want to get through this and go home.
  • I was feeling lonely and wanted to be around people for awhile.
  • I want to run Reiki while I practice.
  • I want to enjoy myself. That’s all.

Maybe now that the pump has been primed, your own creativity is bringing even more ideas to light. The possibilities are endless with awareness and self-honesty. Your statement then becomes your guiding energy as you work.