In·ten·tion: 1. A determination to act in a certain way : resolve. 2: import, significance.
Today marks the first day of National Yoga Month. Last year at aSweatLife, we challenged Instagram to do #yogawithaSweatLife every day as part of a contest to win a Fitbit. It got people to try more yoga and we loved it. This year, though, I’m taking on a different kind of challenge, one that doesn’t involve social media – and doesn’t even require you to do yoga at all. This year’s National Yoga Month challenge takes a step back to what yoga is all about: intention.
We know from research on setting goals that taking on too much at once makes accomplishing goals far more difficult. Take dieting, for example. We know that restricting certain meals or calories tends to backfire; we end up feeling down that we couldn’t succeed in our goal and backslide further in the opposite direction.
If you set one intention for the month, odds are you’ll have moments, days, maybe even weeks when you feel like you totally missed the mark on keeping up with that intention. Instead, each day of September, try out setting one new intention each day. Let it be your guide, but just for the day. When that day is over, so is that intention. Wipe the slate clean and start fresh again the next morning.
Whether you practice yoga or not, the exercise of setting an intention – a goal – relates to everyone in some way. Say you’re running through email after email, skipping from meeting to meeting and writing brief upon brief during a busy day at work; you look at the clock and somehow it’s already 6 pm. You ask yourself, “Where did this time go, and what did I actually accomplish today?” The scenario has been all too familiar to me on some days. It’s in moments like this that I have to ask, “What brings me back to the center?” And that’s my intention.
When you get back to your intention, you relate all your actions, reactions, interactions with others and side conversations with yourself to the significance they carry and how they stack up to your intention. Take the exercise of setting a daily intention and use it as your source for grounding – the thing that brings you back to center – every day this month.
And the best part about this challenge is you don’t actually have to do anything different with your routine – simply apply your daily intention to however you go about it.
So how do I start?
Take 15 minutes to write down words that feel meaningful, impactful, resonate with you or are just some of your favorite words to say and hear. If you don’t have 30 right away, don’t worry.
Some of my favorite words are quintessential yoga words (i.e. “grounded”), while others are a bit bizarre (i.e. “dynamic”).
On September 1, select one word at random.
Regardless of how well the words might fit into a prescribed “intention” and regardless of how you might be feeling on a particular day, select a word at random to start each day.
Use that word to lead you in the choices you make from start to finish – from the way you get dressed for work, to the way you deliver feedback to a co-worker, to what you say when you call your mom at night.
Does the word have to be random?
It doesn’t. But sometimes the lessons that stick best in our brains come out of seemingly nowhere.
Randomizing the words every day will keep things fresh and might help you discover something new about yourself you might not have been looking for.
At the end of the day, reflect on how the intention shaped your day.
Was it all positive? Was some of it more positive? What didn’t turn out so great? And what did you learn about yourself? You can write it down or just spend a few minutes at the close of each day noticing how your intention helped shape your day and what you’d like to get from a guided word tomorrow.
Repeat every day this month.
My first word of September is “trust.” September 2, I’ll have a new word and a new intention for the day. If you’d like to take part in my daily intentions, follow along with this post on aSweatLife or me – or create your own words and mantras as you go from day to day all National Yoga Month long.
September 1: Trust
September 2: Simplicity
September 3: Stormless
September 4: Connectedness
September 5: Joy
September 6: Resolve
September 7: Luminous
September 8: Purposeful
September 9: Inspired
September 10: Available
September 11: Grounding
September 12: Compassion
September 13: Commitment
September 14: Possibility
September 15: Ease
September 16: Drive
September 17: Forgiving
September 18: Resilience
September 19: Concreteness
September 20: Happy
September 21: Collaborative
September 22: Creativity
September 23: Non-attachment
September 24: Dedication
September 25: Patience
September 26: Surrender
September 27: Present
September 28: Authentic
September 29: Brave
What are your daily intentions? Let us know in the comments!