At the beginning of my classes, I invite students to set an intention for the practice. An intention might mean bringing awareness and attention to a quality or virtue that you want to cultivate for your practice. An intention acts like a metaphor to translate our practice off the mat and out into the world. The Sanskrit word "sankalpa" means a commitment that we make to support our highest truth.

How to set an intention
Sit or lie in stillness and silence for a few minutes. You might like to focus the attention on the heart centre, which allows us to connect to our inner teacher. As you breathe into the heart centre, see if anything arises from your intuition, recognising where you are right now, and what might be needed. Don’t force this or make too much effort, try to allow it to arise spontaneously. If nothing arises this time, that’s ok. The more time you can spend with the heart centre in this way, the more easily the intuition can arise.
If something does arise, phrase it as your intention or sankalpa in a positive way and in the present tense, as if it’s already happening (I am… , rather than I will not… ). For example, rather than thinking "I won’t get stressed today", phrase it as "I am at peace". Repeat your intention three times in the mind at the beginning of the practice. You can guide the attention to the sankalpa as you find stillness in each pose. At the end of the practice, bring the intention to the mind once again, perhaps resolving to carry it off the mat and out into the rest of the day. It’s said to be good to carry on working with the same sankalpa until it’s been fulfilled.
Michelle Mathias teaches Vinyasa Flow Yoga at Unity on Wednesdays at 7.30am and 11.15am. www.michellemathiasyoga.com
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