27 July 2018

Intention? or focus?

                          Image result for yoga meditation   


This was The Latest Thing, a few years ago. Known as Sankalpa by a large yoga organisation. Teachers everywhere, took it, and ran with it. Made it Seriously Special. Teachers here, there, and everywhere could create something deep and meaningful, by making intention a special aspect of their classes.

Originally it was part of the above-mentioned yoga organisation's technique of yoga nidra. The idea being that the mind was receptive as it slipped from wakefulness into sleep, or from deep sleep back to wakefulness. For this is when  that little window of opportunity when one's mental barriers are  down, and a resolve, intention, vow, sankalpa, whatever you want to call it, could take fruition, from being implanted during those brief moments.

I no longer teach like this. Frankly, the whole sankalpa thing, it irritated some of my very savvy clients. They were already doing great things with their lives, they didn't want to do sankalpa. Looking back, I now feel that it wasn't too good to use it. Now I feel that it's too much like self hypnosis.

And, now, sankalpa, intention, is mainstream. Well established. But, used differently. It is usually done to start a class.

Now, to start a class, you could use sankalpa in a number of ways:
  • select a crystal
  • choose a tarot or similar card
  • get read a virtue
  • get read something like one of Patanjali's Sutras
  • or just start the class with an intention

This intention could be for a myriad of reasons:
  • focus on the breath
  • focus on your abs in some form or another
  • be aware of your body
  • just be aware
  • and so on

What is the benefit of intention?

There is a benefit. It brings our entire being into a one-pointed aspect. When we can be relaxed within an intention, we can learn much about ourselves, especially if we are doing something as seemingly mundane as watching the breath, in class, from beginning to end. In this instance, a person will feel quite energized in some cases. If it's a class with very soft ujjayi (whispering breath) throughout, one will become meditative.

If you are observing the body throughout the class, you may discover many things about yourself. How your body fits into the poses. What suits you best. Your stamina, your tension, aches and pains, and much more.

Intention, or focus?

And, importantly, when we have something to focus on, it is less tiring than daydreaming. I do this focus differently than using intention at the start of a class.  Depending on whom I'm teaching, and when.

I frequently start a class with a visualisation. Nothing fancy. But always meaningful. I don't make up stories or anything like that. Mainly because I find that sort of thing rather silly. I use special symbols for the people, the time of day, the season.... a myriad of reasons.

I give a focus throughout the class. And not always the same focus throughout the whole class. Occasionally, it's breathing in a certain way. Or chakra awareness. Sometimes it's bits and pieces of a posture whilst everyone is doing it.

Yoga teachers can have a focus, too

I want people to feel good when they have finished. And I also want whatever focus I am using, to have a purpose, be meaningful. I don't want to indoctrinate anyone regarding words like sankalpa, intention. It's all too charismatic for me. I walked away from all of that nonsense years ago. And became a better teacher for it.

And that is a great focus: make it about your students, and about you doing your best for them.

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