Ask a Yogi – How do I set an intention for my yoga practice?

A goal is different from an intention. A goal focuses on a future outcome, an intention focuses on what is of most value to you in the present.


When I first started my practice, my teacher would often instruct us to “set an intention for the yoga practice”. Not understanding quite what that meant, I usually ignored her and wrote it off as just another “woo woo” aspect of yoga.

As I grew more interested in the philosophical aspects of the practice, I realized intention setting is a way to tune into my physical and mental wellbeing. Between teaching classes and working on my business, I sometimes forget to stop and check in with myself. Setting an intention each morning encourages me to self-reflect. How do I feel physically? What’s lingering on my mind? Is there a strong emotion present? Introspection helps me set an intention that will guide me toward action that’s directed and purposeful.

Steps to Creating an Intention:

  1. Relax into a calm state. Notice how you feel physically and emotionally. Identify what you’re feeling: Exhausted? Anxious? Lonely? Peaceful? etc.
  2. Focus on a word that resonates with you. It can be as simple as 1 word. Find a positive word that supports your current emotional or physical state. The word can be a specific action like energize or relax. It can also be a more abstract feeling like love or gratitude. A few other options are listed below.
  3. Repeat the word to yourself. Use every exhale to repeat the intention out loud or internally. Whenever you negative feelings arise, come back to your intention. Recalling the word throughout the day breaks the stream of unconscious thought and mental stimulation. It reminds us to live intentionally— providing a framework for decision-making and action.

FEELING –> INTENTION

Fear –> Comfort

Weakness –> Strength

Sadness –> Joy

Doubt –> Peace

Insecurity –> Confidence

Instability –> Balance

Betrayal –> Truth

Indifference –> Compassion

Constraint –> Freedom

Emptiness –> Fulfillment

Loneliness –> Community

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