What is an intent?
Intent is the third Vital principle of Vijñãna Yoga, coming after quieting the mind and relaxing the body. Now the body and mind are at ease, stable, quiet and concentrated. From this place we see our objective – Sitting, Pranayama or Asana – and place all our attention towards it.
For me, intent represents a clear picture of where I want to go, what I want to do and how I want to do it. It is a strong desire and longing from within that directs my mind to the practice itself, before actually moving my physical body.
How can you practice intent?
While we practice yoga, we allow ourselves to feel our inner desire to perfect a particular Asana (yogic pose). We also sense our longing for a peaceful state of mind during meditation, enabling us to distance ourselves from our impulse to react to the noisy outer world. By envisioning ourselves progressing towards these objectives, we experience the beauty of gaining awareness about the tremendous visualization capacity of our inner eye.
How can you focus better on your intent?
Regardless of your objective, with every calm inhalation, enhance your intention and increase your awareness of it. While exhaling, without any tension, focus on refining its direction and visualize yourself moving towards your goal. Personally, I feel as though this is an act of devotion to myself and my own practice.
Let’s take a pose that you have yet to master:
- One might choose to give up “I will never be able to master this pose”.
- One can set an intent – feeling a strong longing to master the pose and directing the mind to it in a way that is quiet, relaxed and harmless
- I strongly believe that the devotion to one’s practice will always be rewarded.😉 The body cannot refuse. It has to follow the intent.
Why is intent so important?
The body is persuaded by our intent, and it will follow it. It gives our body, our mind and our heart a clear picture, a direction and a purpose to our practice. It makes your practice whole.
You are in your meditation and your intent might be to sit quietly.
You are in your Asana practice and your intent might be to relax more.
You are doing a breathing exercise and your intent might be to root more.
Misconception when it comes to Intent?
I recently read something that motivated me to apply this Vital Principle into my practice even more:
“We apply personal effort because we think we have to learn the Asana. Thinking that we have to “learn” postures is a mistake. The body knows how to do them. In reality, there is nothing that the body can learn which is not already there, from birth onward. Inviting the body to do what it knows to do is intent. ” (Dona Holleman, Dancing the flame of life, 2009)
I hope my take on Vijñana Yoga helps you better understand the importance of intent in your own Yoga practice. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.👇
Take care and stay safe.
Book recommendations on the topic:
Sen-Gupta, O. (2012) – The heart of practice – Understanding Yoga from Inside
Sen-Gupta, O. (2013) – A little book of yoga
Hollemann, D. (2009) – Dancing the flame of life