Open With Intention
Welcome to June, LifeFit yogis and friends! This is the month that we “spring into” summer, open to all the joys of these two seasons, including the chance to get outdoors as well as to be spontaneous. I hope you use all of your yoga muscles to embrace life!
As our LifeFit community of classes has evolved over the years, each year we have a few emerging and refining trends. This year we made it a point to begin each practice with “setting and intention.” You all are understanding that group practice is the springboard to building your home practice. I hope you continue practicing this tool, setting an intention, as the way into your own practice. Therefore I thought to explain and review.
Setting an intention at the beginning, will ease you into your practice, whether it is yoga asana, meditation or another mind-body practice. It is both a simple and effective process. When you don't know what to practice, this step allows your intuitive “way in.” Setting an intention has you look inward, ask and note "what do I need in this moment?
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is “How do I set my intention for my practice?” or "What qualifies as an intention?"
Intention is the bigger focus of what you may be looking to develop in your practice, to move forward in yourself. This can include how you want to feel in your practice and afterwards. It can be an emotion, a feeling, a quality, a goal. The intention is what you are looking to achieve through the use of the yoga asana sequence practiced and/or while sitting in meditation. It can be a prayer. It can be a resolution to using or sending the energy of your practice for the sake of another person. It can include a mantra, which is word, sound, or phrase that you repeat while practicing. A mantra is often taking your intention and using it as an affirmation. Therefore an intention is the overall goal of what you are wanting to cultivate in your practice, while the mantra is what you repeat to propel yourself there. This helps your keep your mind steady on your practice. An intention helps to ground your practice!
So then, how to set an intention for your practice?
• Find a comfortable seat. Suggestion: Sukhasana, Happy/Easy Pose
• Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Create space in the body, horizontally and vertically, front to back. Make sure your shoulders, neck, face muscles and jaw are relaxed. Your tongue isn’t clinging to the roof of your mouth. Notice how your breath awareness becomes refined. Note how this leads you to letting go of more unnecessary tension. Use this awareness to help you understand what the undue tension may be connected to.
• Ask Yourself: What do I need to release? What is not serving me? What is limiting me? You can turn these realizations into positive intentions.
• Ask yourself: What do I need right now? How do I want to feel? What is meaningful to me in this present moment?
• As you continue to sit comfortably, continue with deep breathing and whatever you answer with, in this moment, is the intention for your practice. Don’t overthink it. You have identified how you want to feel intuitively.
• Now choose a mantra/an affirmation. Affirmations are positive statements that are proven to help re-wire the brain for positivity, gratitude, and happiness. You can also use a verse of scripture or a Sanskrit mantra, such as "Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti," which represents all-encompassing peace. Sanskrit mantras a filled with healing sounds, called a “bij,” or seed.
• Your intention can change for each practice. It becomes a process that evolves as we are being proactive in the self-learning process and thus, we cultivate the journey toward growth. Sometimes, the clarity is clouded by the whirwind of life. Don't get discouraged, continue with the steps of your practice, and both your mind and your body will begin to respond when the beginning steps are recognized again and again. That is why we practice…anything in life.
• Note: In Sanskrit, the word for intention is sankalpa. In classical Yoga Nidra practice a sankalpa is used to identify a limiting belief and use it as a transformational belief. We will continue to have formal Yoga Nidra practice opportunities on occasional Sundays in the fall and in the new year – keep an eye out for those dates and come join us!
Once we start to honor and pull out of ourselves this quality, the intention of our practice, we begin to embody it. And, then in the yogic tradition of nonattachment, we can choose to release it and start the process all over again, with the next thing we want/need to work on.
Setting an intention can have a profound effect, as it can be both a supportive and empowering practice tool. Furthermore, as yogis we learn that the lessons on our mat, come to be incorporated in the course of our day(s). Here is an opportunity for cultivating mindful living.
One way to reflect on your mindful journey is to keep a practice journal. Use your journal to track your practice, goals, reflections and intentions you’ve set and watch how you grow as your practice unfurls. Note that you can work on an intention for a certain designated length of time and that it can change between each practice, each month, and each year. Use your yoga muscles to embrace life! Enjoy your practice!
Seasonal Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is a favorite for the summer season. It's cooling and fresh, two things we need most in warm weather. Peppermint is also an essential oil that has a great diversity of use, from diffusing the aroma to settle the stomach to utilizing the natural menthol to cool down and relieve summer skin concerns. It's energizing, too – peppermint's aroma helps to wake us up when we need to keep going, which is perfect during such a busy time of year. Read more and order at www.mydoterra.com/lifefit
Here are some quick ways to make the most of your peppermint oil.
• Diffuse in the car for long rides to settle stomachs and to help with alertness in driving – with a car diffuser or in a simple mist with distilled water that you spritz in the car – to keep restless stomachs more stable, and driver focused.
• Make a mist to spray on the back of the neck or the feet to keep cool. Add 6 to 7 drops to 1 ounce of water and spray.
• Add a few drops to a bowl of cold water and soak a cool, wet washcloth for a cold compress. Use the compress on a warm forehead for a soothing effect.
• Add peppermint to shoes, along with arrowroot or cornstarch, to keep them odor-free. Make a deodorizing shoe powder by adding 10 drops of peppermint oil to 1/4 cup of either arrowroot or cornstarch.
Make a Insect Repellent Spray Add 6 to 10 drops each of Cedarwood, Lemongrass and Peppermint essential oils and 1 teaspoon epsom salt, to 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle – use for self and mist around the base of plants, leaves, and around doorways and windows to deter ants, spiders, slugs and aphids, mist where .
• Make and After Sun Spray. Add 6 to 7 drops each of Peppermint and Lavender essential oils to 8 ounces of water in a spray bottle – mist onto the skin for both a cooling and a healing effect from the sun rays. Or add these oils to 2 ounces of aloe vera gel to soothe the skin.
LifeFit Summer 2018 Workshops
This is year sixteen of LifeFit Summer workshops! Originally designed to educate new students interested in joining our group classes, now existing students recognize the empowering value of the lectures, as well as the handouts to include the practice sequences. Many students come repeatedly each summer to continue learning more as content changes and to refine their knowledge of what and how to practice. My wish was for LifeFit students to supplement their group practice with knowledge and confidence to then build a home practice. Thus, all of us get to grow when collectively we deepen our practice, our journeys entwined. Yoga teachers will now receive continuing education credits to attend LifeFit workshops.