Yesterday I attended Carolyn Butcher’s prana flow class at Yoga Fusion in Chevy Chase to ring in 2011.  Carolyn started off the class talking about the idea of replacing new years resolutions with intentions. Hmmm… I had starting writing this post a week or so ago but it still needed some polishing.  Remebering that 1.1.11 is a year of synchronicitys and alignment, I decided to go ahead and post. I am back from an unexpected hiatus from blogging.  I look forward to 2011 and where this new year will take me and I look forward to growing community here at DC Dharma in the coming year.

Goal vs. Intention

The impending new year often brings long lists of resolutions.  I resolve to lose 10 lbs., exercise more, and eat my vegetables.   Round about February…we’ve long since forgotten all of those resolutions in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines and we continue  the negative self-chatter that goes along with unmet goals.

In this new year, I suggest you consider a more yogic twist (that pun was not intended) on the idea of resolutions is to set intentions.  What is the difference you ask?  A resolution is more like a goal—something focused on the future.  Goals are very important and we rarely make progress in our lives without goals. But, resolutions, at least for me often feel heavy and burdensome, like another “have to” to add to my list.

Intentions, on the other hand, allow you to be softer with yourself. No “shoulds” allowed intentions are focused on what you need right now, or how you are showing up in the present moment.

Sankalpa in Sanskrit means will, purpose or determination. While a goal looks to the end result, an intention or sankalpa focuses on the path or the journey.

A sankalpa or intention also praises the effort you make to achieve your intention—you get credit for getting back on the path to your intention, regardless of how many times you may veer off course. This is the critical distinction for me.

When you set an intention or sankalpa at the beginning of your practice, it serves to center and ground you, to provide a focus for why you showed up on your mat and to establish presence in the moment.  The same can be said taking intentions off the mat, into your daily life.

Tips for Intention Setting

So when your yoga teacher invites you to set an intention for your daily practice, Don’t freak out….do you hear thoughts like? Should I wish for world peace? Or a cure for cancer? Is it wrong if I wish for an effortless handstand?

An intention is  simply a wish for you or for someone else. Here are  few suggestions:

Just be here now

Try my best

Listen to my body—do what it needs

Live in balance—take the middle path

As for setting New Year’s Intentions, its ok if you haven’t  done it yet.

Take some time to be quiet with yourself and listen to what comes up. What do you want more of in 2011, what do you want less of?

Some of my intentions include cultivating more community, balance and spaciousness and remembering to spend my time in activities I love like traveling and being in nature.

What are some of your intentions for 2011?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Photo by rogersmj on Flickr via CC license

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