One of the things I love most about my yoga class happens before we even begin to move. You might think “it’s a yoga thing,” but it doesn’t have to be. Before we begin our workout, we set an intention. By “intention,” the teacher doesn’t necessarily mean you must box yourself into an “I intend to get better at…” statement…not at all. What she means is: Take a moment to acknowledge (or for some, discover) why you’re here.
Sound silly? Well, think about it next time you’re about to go out for a run, as you’re lacing up your sneakers. What’s your intention? Where did the desire/need for this run come from, and what do you hope to gain from the experience?
My workout becomes significantly more, well, significant after I set my intention. Some days I simply say a word of gratitude that my body is healthy and strong and allows me to do the hard work of Bikram yoga when there are plenty of people who wish they could do it, but for some reason can’t. Some days I extend that little secret wish to my family…health, happiness, peace for all! It’s a moment to say a little prayer. But very often these days, I find myself actually focusing on an intention, like “Use this practice to breathe and release the day and create more patience in my daily life.”
Perhaps even more important than setting that intention is being reminded of it later in the session. Coming back around to it, and realizing that, hey! All those thoughts swirling around in my head when I came in, they really did leave my brain over that hour. And I do feel calmer and more in control. I believe in my intention. It comes with me when class is over, even when I’m no longer thinking about it consciously.
So my suggestion for you is this: Before you begin a workout, look at yourself in the mirror. That might be the hardest part for you, but that’s why you should do it. Ground yourself, recognize the “you” you see in front of you. Then let your eyes settle on your eyes, throat, chest, wherever, and set an intention. What motivates your workout today? You say, “I wanna lose weight, that’s all.” But is that really all? It’s a respect for yourself that’s driving you, is it not? Affirm those deeper voices that nudge you into your athletic shoes when you really feel like falling onto the couch. Dedicate your workout to someone or something. Make it more than a calorie-burning session. Because it is!