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Yoga is a practice of good intentions

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This week, I am taking part in a yoga teacher training course. I am spending a full 10 days doing yoga, living yoga. I am learning valuable tools and tips to help my athletes with flexibility, breath, and alignment.

More importantly I am learning ways for my athletes to mentally and emotionally prepare for training. I’ve written about the importance of yoga for athletes before. This time I’d like to speak to how well the frameworks in yoga apply to any sport or physical exercise.  

Yoga teachers learn to set an intention for their practice. When you attend a yoga class, your instructor might suggest a specific intention or ask you to select your own intention. To set an intention is to identify a positive thought or quality and to wilfully and carefully bring that value into your practice through actions that reflect that quality. You are then invited to carry over that thought into the rest of your day.

My suggestion for you today is to consider setting an intention for your exercise routine. First, notice that a yoga session is not called a class or a workout; it is referred to as a practice. This distinction is special and it reveals a lot about intention by its very definition. It reframes yoga as a journey rather than a destination. It reminds us to approach it with a beginner’s mind.

As a fitness enthusiast, or even as someone who struggles to get out for a walk a few times a week to get in shape, imagine if you reframed every single workout as a practice. Imagine if every single breath and every single muscle contraction was done with purpose and conviction.  

For your workout, just as in yoga practice, your intention can be very simple, like remembering to breathe, or something a bit more complex, like discovering strength or letting go of baggage. Setting an intention is different than setting a goal. Instead of looking to future outcome, the intention focuses on how you are in the present moment of the practice or during the workout itself. By setting an intention for your workout, you can get closer to your goals without getting too caught up in the results.

An intention should reflect your values and setting an intention for a workout can remind you of why you are training. It allows you to be more authentic in your training. The intention anchors your mind to the present moment, while staying in tune with your values and views of the outside world.  

My intention for today: "Take care of this moment."

Tania Tetrault Vrga is owner and head trainer at CrossFit Winnipeg. Send questions to her at www.crossfitwinnipeg.com.

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