Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Personal Practice Adventure: Setting the Intention

YES for wanting to deepen and nurture your own personal sacred space! I'm so excited to be able to create a space for us to experience together.

I've thought about where we could begin with this Adventure, should we talk about space, logistics, brainstorm ideas around time, where to find videos, sequences, some thoughts on what to do... and realized that before any of this could occur we should talk about setting our intentions.

This comes down to planning, but I like the phrase: "Setting your intention" for your practice. The first few times I heard the yoga instructor ask us to "set our intention" for our practice that evening, I thought... "um practice yoga" and felt like it was a waste of time. I was afraid, you see, that I'd somehow set them too high, or fail. A lot of my insecurities around yoga (and life) revolve around my fear of failure.

Of course, in order to begin anything, we must have some sort of intention on what we would like to do. The trick... is to set realistic intentions. I could very well say: "My Personal Practice Intention is to practice yoga every day at home like those intense Ashtangis advise"... and fail miserably. I know that my life and my schedule with my work would not mesh well with a sudden every day "have to" practice and I'd give up completely within a week. This is also why I don't "do" bootcamps or other intensive challenges. At the end of the challenge you haven't nurtured a practice that will continue to grow and work with your forever life and are left trying to figure it out.

As creatures of habit, all change is unnerving, work and often scary. However, in small manageable destinations on our adventure we can shape new habits, new routines that gradually become something beautiful and effortless. This, sadly, takes a bit of planning. I am definitely not a great planner in my own personal life, and much prefer events and life to be "if I feel like it". This is why I am not a fan of pre-booking yoga classes. I want to go, when I want to go.

Unfortunately, any sort of practicing at home is extremely vulnerable to distractions and "punk outs". Our first step is to recognize that this fantastic Adventure will take a bit of work, but that it won't be anything we can't manage. The next step is to figure out just what is the perfect "extra" intention you'd like to do for the next little while. No time limit, no pressure on being 100% successful, just mindfully reviewing your life, your habits, your schedule and what small practice intention would work for you.

Perhaps you'd like to begin meditating outside of class; maybe one evening a week of 20-30 minutes would be a nice intention. Or you'd like to try practicing yoga on your own for the very first time, one practice a week. Perhaps you practice at home but would like to lengthen the time you spend, or change your space. Being realistic about your life will also be essential. If you have small children, work full time and have a partner who also works full time, carving out that sacred space is going to be some work... and perhaps every evening for 20 minutes is a bit much.

Beginning small gives us the space to be successful, happy and fulfilled so that we can always add more when we feel ready.

I do better when I choose an intention that is concrete, down to the day and time I will be practicing. Voicing my intention to Andrew especially helps, as saying it outloud makes it more real and helps others to support your new Adventure. Letting loved ones know that this is important to you and that you'd appreciate their support in your small steps as you will support them in theirs.

We have our intentions!! It's something concrete, doable and my next post will be about time :) What are your intentions?



  1. I have an intention of practicing at home daily. Some days go better than others. I am also trying to work towards not just doing asana but getting back to meditating more, something I've been getting farther away from lately, unfortunatey.

    Home practice is difficult! So many distractions. I find first thing in the morning works best- just roll outta bed and do it. Feels good and a nice way to begin the day!

  2. Hello! Just wanted to let you know I linked to your bottled water post on Zen of Homekeeping. I really dig what you're laying down here! Namaste, kitty.

  3. This is one of my favorite posts of yours! I'm so excited to start this adventure.

    My intention is to do yoga for at least 20 minutes, twice a week. The first session must occur before Wednesday, so I don't end up saving them both till the end of the week!

  4. Kitty: I'm glad you liked it!! :) Bottled water is a touchy subject for me, I feel pretty passionately about it. :)

    Mambinki: what wonderful intentions! I hear you on the meditating more, at one point my intention will be to actually add some meditation to my practice... not yet though- small steps! :) Morning would work for so many people i think.

    Greenspell: YAY i'm glad you like it!! :) That is a fantastic intention- I especially like how you recognize that leaving them until wednesday may not work so well... lol :) perfect!

  5. My intention is to practice yoga every single day this month. I might not be able to do a lot each day, but I'm going to try to find the time and focus to do at least a little. It's my way of reminding myself that I don't have to have a lot of time or make it to a class to really practice. I've already told myself that crawling into bed and calling it Savasana doesn't count!

  6. "A lot of my insecurities around yoga (and life) revolve around my fear of failure."


    I think this is the main reason that I'm reluctant to even set my intention here. I just assume that I will fail and that is very stressful to me.

  7. Hey there! I just posted about this on my blog, and wanted to tell you that if you would like me to change anything, let me know. I want to make sure I've shared your information and spread the word in a way that is honorable and accurate.

  8. I am so excited for this new adventure of yours! I've been doing a daily personal practice for about a month and a half now, and it has been really great so far. I do it in the morning as soon as I get out of bed, and even when I wake up in a bad mood I'm happy by the time I finish my practice.

    One thing that's been important for me to remember is that anything can be a personal practice. It's not like "if I don't do x, and I don't do y, then I haven't practiced". Even if you just do a few sun salutations, that's a practice. I have a tendency to be hard on myself if I feel like I'm not accomplishing things, so I really try to stay away from thoughts like THAT WAS A REALLY LAME PRACTICE THIS MORNING.

    I'm sure that you will be wonderful and totally gentle on yourself and that you will find your new practice hugely beneficial :)

  9. Hello there! I love this idea, (found out about it via Greenspell). And very timely for me. goes. Intention setting: I aim to practice (at home) on a daily basis - six days per week - for 30 minutes per day. Morning or evening.

    There we go : )

  10. I'm coming a bit late to this, but I've thought about it, and my intention is to meditate at least three days a week, for at least ten minutes each time. I intend to do this twice during week days and once on the weekend.

    You're right, it is different to set intention than it is to just hope to get around to it!

  11. Vegan Burnout: I love that you're honest about the amount and allowing yourself some Grace in the time each day!

    Karen Beth: don't worry! You just need to find an Intention that is small enough to rise about the fear :) That's what I did.

    Annabellie: so true! thank you for your kind words and thoughts- I hope so too :)

    Docwitch: perfect! very specific and very firm! WOO!

    Theresa: we can set our intentions at any time, and change them to suit our life at the moment too- that's why I chose Adventure and not challenge :)
    That sounds like a wonderful Intention, I admire you very much, meditation is a long term goal for me :) Can't wait to hear how it goes!


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