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Intentions & Goals

By Ashley Benson, ERYT-200, YACEP

Within the practice and philosophy of yoga, there is a continuous exploration into the union of doing and being. Here we can find valuable insight into the difference between goals and intentions. A goal is based on a desired outcome, an outcome which occurs through effort, or doing. A goal has an end-point. An example is, setting a goal to be able to do shoulder stand for 15 breaths. There is a specific, desired outcome, based on effort and action.

The achievement of being able to hold shoulder stand for 15 breaths is great, yet if we explore the concept of intention, we are likely to find that there is more for us to receive. Intention invites us into self-reflection, why do we want to do shoulder stand for 15 breaths? Is it to develop strength? Is it to develop confidence?

Within the practice and philosophy of yoga, there is a continuous exploration into the union of doing and being. Here we can find valuable insight into the difference between goals and intentions. A goal is based on a desired outcome, an outcome which occurs through effort, or doing. A goal has an end-point. An example is, setting a goal to be able to do shoulder stand for 15 breaths. There is a specific, desired outcome, based on effort and action.

The achievement of being able to hold shoulder stand for 15 breaths is great, yet if we explore the concept of intention, we are likely to find that there is more for us to receive. Intention invites us into self-reflection, why do we want to do shoulder stand for 15 breaths? Is it to develop strength? Is it to develop confidence?

Yogi Amrit Desai often says “Be what you are doing it for.” This is a beautiful invitation to place your intention first and cultivate that way of being all along the way, as you take actions to reach your goal. It is helpful to bring our intentions into “I am” statements. “I am strong. I am confident.” As we move through each yoga practice, we bring that intention all along the way, into each posture, breath, and inward focus. As we cultivate our intention, the achievement of the goal simply becomes a marker along the way to a deeper way of being in our bodies, and our lives.