Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Best Intentions...

In yoga we talk a lot about our intention. We set them before the class and try to hold them in ourselves during the class and then following the class we are asked to take them with us out into the world and apply them to our everyday life. When I read books by David Hawkins and Eckhart Tolle I hear a lot of the same message as well, it’s not what you’ve done or not done, it’s what your intention was. Like if you offer someone a ride in your car and then you take a busy road and get them stuck in a traffic jam and make them late for work it’s pretty easy to feel like maybe it would have been better not to have offered the ride. But if your intentions were good then there’s no good reason to make yourself feel bad. We can’t choose the outcomes of our actions, only our actions.

Another important idea around intentions is that your life will flow in the direction we intend it. We could also call this our ‘mind-set’. Sometimes we set our mind in a certain direction on an unconscious level and end up directing our lives unintentionally, in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. So if you go through your day telling people that you have no friends and no one likes you then maybe by the end of the day this unintended intention will true. And that’s not to say there aren’t outside factors we have no control over, but if you intend to focus on all the bad things in life then you’ll most likely see all the bad things in life. I know this idea may offend some people because it’s not a happy thought to think that we are solely responsible for how we perceive our lives. That is to say that we can not decide the outcome of our lives but we can decide how we perceive our outcomes and in that we are our own masters.

So as I’ve been writing this I’ve been thinking about why I teach yoga. I’ve been considering what my intentions for being a yoga teacher are and so far I’ve realized that I would like for everyone to know that just a little yoga in their life could make a huge difference.
Even if a person only practiced deep breathing once a day or practiced being present once an hour, or did 15 minutes of yoga poses 3 times a week I know it would make a huge difference for them. That’s the tricky part, I don’t care if people pack into yoga centers wearing spandex and stretching 3 hours a day if that’s not their thing. That’s not my thing either. I practiced yoga on my own for almost 8 years before I ever attended a class. I think centers provide great opportunities to build community, and find guidance and refresh your personal practice, but I think it’s more important to take what you learned into your daily life and find where it fits for you.
So that’s what I’m trying to do with my yoga teaching, but the tricky part is reaching the non-yogis and helping them find the validity for yoga in their lives, even if it is just for ten minutes a day. I’m setting my intention in that direction and hoping that the answers come to me as to how to achieve this. If anyone has any ideas I’d love to hear them.