Intention as Surrender

Many of us have heard of the power of intention, especially if you practice yoga at all. You’ll often hear teachers invite a class to “set an intention” and often these are valiant and positive things like:

Patience. Breath. Focus on myself. Balance. Strength. Be love. Go with the Flow.

These are great intentions and just a very short list.

As a yoga teacher myself, I often invite students to think of their intention in a way that serves them. Some of us aren’t as driven by simple words. Some of us are more tactile or kinesthetic in our minds and bodies. Some of us are more visual learners. So when setting an intention remember it doesn’t just have to be a word or a phrase. It can be a color, a sensation, or even a place. I often find myself reliving the mental snapshots from transformative experiences or big moments where I felt at my most connected to myself and the world around me as a north star for my effort and attention.

In the last few years, as I have journeyed to a deeper relationship with myself and the beautiful world I inhabit, my relationship to intention has also changed. I no longer allow intention to be a form of free spirited goal setting, because lets be totally honest, many of us come to a practice like yoga to remember that the real world is the one that is fabricated and often distracting us from our deeper knowing, wisdom, kindness, compassion, and most engaged self. We come to the practice of yoga for a little recalibration of self in order to step back into that real world with a little more grace and a little less struggle if possible, or at the very least to feel good in our bodies so we can move in the world with some ease.

So, if intention isn’t goal setting, maybe its more of a waking up to what’s already the internal compass we so importantly need to keep honoring. Perhaps we don’t set an intention. Perhaps, in setting an intention we are simply noticing how intention is naming that which will set us into motion, or set us into stillness. Our intention is really a way to look within ourselves, reconnecting to what we know is our best self. Its a chance to name what is already great about us. We don’t need to be more of anything. Often we simply need to return to our central core value and desires.

How do you honor your deepest self in your intentions? How do the choices you make, the actions you take, and the ways in which you choose to engage in the world honor the intentions your deeper self are whispering to you?


  1. Thank you for opening this up – I love this, and am grateful to now be able to open it to those who share their practice with me. It fits into what I recently heard from Jeff Foster (who credits Eckhart Tolle), about becoming an “in-teacher”….which to me is loosening my hold on the perspective that I have to “teach” specific things (like telling you what your intention “might” be)…and creating a space where beings might find a way to un-learn what we thought we knew, by learning what we are in this moment.

    As ever, I appreciate what you offer !

    • Thank you for your wonderfully well thought out and compassionate comment. We can only allow and observe, and then let go of whatever obscures our best selves. From such a place our actions can have better grounds for good things to flourish.

  2. I love it.. looking for my intention to be in the moment, since I am always having a to do list.

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