Intention

Greetings Beloved Yoga practitioners!

This month we welcomed 2018 with the theme of Intention

why am I doing this?

At the start of the New Year we mobilized our yoga practice to examine the very nature of intent and to clarify and invigorate our goals and resolutions.

It seems that intention and purpose are inseparable from life itself. I recently watched a video showing an amoeba chasing and finally engulfing a poor little paramecium that seemed to strive desperately to get away! Both these organisms displayed pure uncomplicated motivation.

life

Intention pulses at the root of all life.

In the Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali first announces the intention of the yogic path, like typing a destination into the GPS :

gps
“Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of mind. Then, the seer abides in its own true nature.” — Patanjali Yoga Sutras I:2/3

So no matter what we do in our choice of practices, whether postures, breathing, chanting, meditation, or offering service, we are headed to the destination of “abiding in our own true nature.”

road to Oz

As Patanjali helpfully indicates, our true nature is eternal, pure and joyful, so it is a destination worth the effort, and it is truly worthwhile to abide there.

The Yoga Sutras also declare: The “attainment” of our true nature is a matter of removing obstructions to the perception of what is already there.

Often we like to begin class with some of the breath holding techniques advocated throughout the yoga canon.

sponge bob holding breath

“One must control the prana by stopping the motions of inhalation and exhalation. Then the covering of inner light is weakened.” Yoga sutras II:49,52

A deep inhalation or full exhalation, temporarily held, will generate a singular all-consuming desire: to breathe. One doesnt have to make an effort to concentrate and unify the scattered, fragmented will, because the breath stoppage does that for us automatically. We get in touch with the raw material, the throb of intent, at the foundation of awareness.

oval with radii

In hatha yoga practice, enacting a series of postures named for animals is a way of awakening the reptilian and mammalian regions of the brain, and of yoking those elemental drives to our ultimate purposes. These atavistic poses safely and satisfyingly disinhibit the potent will of the animal nature.

reptile

A good hatha yoga session awakens this unflinching intentional focus inherited through evolution. This means that we can harness that sense of unstoppable intent and primal need to the yoga path.

It also means that yoga practices work to enhance the clarity and the efficacy of our will.

superman s

When yoga stimulates and aligns those centers of intention along the spine known as chakras, we obtain access to the flow of inner power. What was a trickle becomes a geyser.

geyser

Intention/Need
Crown: Light
Third Eye: knowledge
Throat: self-expression;
Heart: love;
Solar Plexus: control/acquisition;
Sacral: sexuality;
Root: food/shelter

 

When those centers are not in alignment, our will energy is scattered throughout the nervous system in disparate and sometimes contradictory directions, and so weakened.

signpost

What unifies the will for a yogi is this singular intention: to know one’s own true nature, to drink the incomparably pure intelligence of eternal bliss through self-inquiry.

girl sunset

Lets type that into the GPS and we will enjoy the scenic route! At the end of the day, all roads lead there anyway.

road

“You will find that intention on liberation is the means to it. When this intention is full no other means is necessary. But when intention is weak what is the use of a thousand means?”
— Tripura Rahasya (date unknown)

A favorite we have been playing in class is this, George Winston’s rendering of JS Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

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