May 21, 2012

Why on Earth Would Anyone Practice Yoga?

Connecting To Purpose On Your Mat.

I believe we set intentions in our yoga practice as a means of getting connected. Connected to purpose as to why on Earth we show up onto our mats. Whether it is in a yoga studio, at a park, in our living room, in an airport, at our hotel room or out on our patio decks. We show up on our mats time and time again.


Clearly, something must be working if we continue to systematically show up for the universe like we do when we step into an asana practice. What are we seeking? The answer will usually give you a good idea of what your intention is. Every time you step onto your mat, you are a new person.

You come from different circumstances each day—different conversations, parking scenarios, conference calls, relationships evolving. You are new every time you step onto your mat. It’s like you and your mat never met before—but there is a sense of déjà vu.

I’ve been here before. This is where I am supposed to be. 

So one day I walk into teach my 6:00 Wednesday evening Vinyasa class and I give every student a pen and post-it note. With Ong Sung Hung by The Guru Singh Experience playing in the background, I asked them a question:

“Why are you here? What do you want? Write it down on your post-it note. It can be a word, an image, a phrase. It can be indecipherable to anyone but you. Put it at the top of your yoga mat. You can place it face-down if you aren’t ready to share it with the world. You can place it face-up if you’re ready to receive this thing that you are seeking. Either way, you are putting it out into the universe. You are setting your intention.”

Then, I asked the group to come into child’s pose. At the end of the class I asked if everyone would share their intentions and stick them to the wall in the stairwell. Many intentions were similar. I repeated the exercise on Saturday morning at nine a.m. They added their post-it notes to the wall, too.

So if you are wondering why 74 of my students practice yoga, here are their intentions as they wrote them down word for word:

Forgiveness & strength
Help me sleep
Become more limber
Start my day with a clear mind
To let go of this week
To be unbreakable (I will bend like a reed in the wind)
Peace of mind
Sweat, strength, health
Relax & get a good stretch
To de-stress
Because there’s no better way to start a Saturday!
Clear my head and workout
Health & doing something for myself
Flexibility, strength, core
Good stretching
To feel cleansed, to gain peace
Get in shape
Build strength—body & spirit
Try something new, trying to crush it
Stress & anxiety relief
Increase flexibility & strength
Stretch away the aches.. gain strength… “me” time
Peace for body and mind—to get toned for my wedding with him on august 25!
Hope and inspiration
Detox the mind and body
Strength, balance
Everything will get done
To let go, let God
Relieve stress
Balance, flexibility, openness
My stand: i am graciously and gracefully demanding
Long & lean.. energy, simplify my life, serenity
To feel good
Feel better
To calm down
To let go
To get me through the day! the weekend! the week!
Traveling the world
Be more present
Move abroad
To feel strong, calm and ready for the day
To relax and breathe
Because i can walk again!
To regain myself
Strength, skinny, serenity
Getting a job
Energy, endurance
To start a beautiful Saturday
Build more confidence in myself
Doing something that I love as a career. Being my own boss. perhaps instruct yoga…
Rejuvenate my spirit
Stretch, energy, balance…
To get toned
Stress relief
Relax body and mind
Breathe & strengthen
Quitting my job and traveling the world, starting with Europe…

Why do you practice?

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Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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