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Yoga: Intention During Your Practice – “Be Kind. Move in Kind.”

No matter what form of yoga we practice, from restorative to hot power, moving through a sequence can be challenging in many ways. The postures may be difficult. The postures may be easy and a deep desire for a more demanding flow may arise. We may be preoccupied with things going on in our lives. Our motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle may wax and wane and thus our desire to be in class altogether. When we do enjoy a rejuvenating flow, returning to the world at large can be jarring and uncomfortable as internal serenity is replaced with stark awareness of the fast pace of our everyday lives.

Often, we are asked to choose an intention at the beginning of our practice. It can be anything that we desire, from something we simply want in life to a deep need as we struggle through life’s challenges. If ever you find yourself uncertain about what intention to work toward, today we’ll consider one that can help you benefit emotionally as you move throw your sequence toward your physical goals.

In a yoga class there is both stillness and movement. We take postures and hold them; we rest and we move. The physical movement is far more tangible than the stillness. Nobody goes to yoga to sit still, after-all. We arrive to move our bodies and when instructed on how to do so, we want to do it right and we want to get there as quickly as possible. We naturally observe how we are doing and judge our movements to be right or wrong, good or bad. We compare how we look to how we think we should look as guided by our teachers. It’s sometimes hard to get to a place where we can balance our desire to move quickly and correctly with our need to move mindfully. Optimally, we place our body into positions that will contribute to a unique detox process, unique strength building needs and unique internal growth. Even while we’re all listening to the same directions, we can customize the sequence to our own authentic process once we acknowledge what those needs are and center ourselves just enough to build upon the positive within us.

To help you center during your next yoga class, here is an intention that can help you shift away from the thoughts and judgements that commonly distract. We are focusing on two distinct experiences here: what to focus on as we’re moving and what to focus on when we’re still. As you sit on your mat for the first time, notice the stillness within you and gently think the words, “Be Kind.” Exist in the stillness of kindness. The nuance to be recognized here is that you’re not shifting your focus onto kindness rather than a negative idea. You’re shifting your focus on your internal experience of the present moment and your ability to feel kindness within you and as a result to be kind towards yourself and others as you say, ‘Be Kind.” So, each time you find yourself holding a posture or needing a break and you notice a thought passing through that is unpleasant for you or judgmental of yourself or someone else, you breath, turn inward and bring yourself back to the intention of kind being, “Be Kind.” You can begin using this intention before you ever enter the class, when you’re sitting in your car before heading into the studio, wait until you’re seated on your mat or when the class begins, whichever feels right for you.

Now, onto the movement portion of this intention. As you begin to follow the instructions of your teacher and shift away from stillness, your attention naturally moves to the postures. You take that first child’s pose or downward dog and thoughts likely flood the mind. Wanting to do the pose correctly and associated judgement arise often. Judgement, whether positive or negative, takes us out of our practice, out of the present moment and makes us less likely to notice what our body truly needs. So, when judgement arises as you move, that’s a wonderful opportunity to say to yourself, “Move in Kind.” You are bringing the quiet stillness of “Be Kind” into the active postures now. Here too, you can pick and choose when to use this part of the intention. Perhaps you start when you find yourself distracted during challenging postures and notice clear dissatisfaction with how you’re doing. You can also begin when you’re walking into the class. As you say to yourself, “move in kind,” here too, you are tapping into the kindness deep within you and bringing it out onto the mat, into your physical movements and body.

After you explore the intention, “Be Kind. Move in Kind.” now you can observe your transition between stillness and movement. You might even experiment with shifting between the two, so that you’re entire practice is filled with either one mantra or the other. You might notice how your experience of the sequence feels when you say these words to yourself versus when you do not. Sometimes it might feel best to say nothing at all and rather sit in quiet and move in quiet, but when you notice the unnecessary entering your thoughts, you return to, “Be Kind. Move in Kind.” You might notice how this intention enables you to keep moving mindfully, as tensions ease in the body and the urgency to move at a quick pace diminishes. Ideally, you will take this intention and make it yours, saying these words to yourself when you personally need them most. I’d love to hear how this works for you and how you bring “Be Kind. Move in Kind.” into your yoga class. If you’re curious about how it may feel to bring this intention from the mat and into your daily life, go for it and please share your experiences below.

I honor the light in you which is also in me.

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