Intentions, Dedications, and Confusions: What it really means to set an intention or dedication for your yoga practice

At the beginning of your yoga class, have you ever heard your instructor say: ”If you’d like to set an intention or dedication for your practice, now is the perfect time to do so.?” 

Okay, so what does that mean? 

I don’t know about you, but when I first came to yoga, I’d spend those few moments after I heard that completely debating with myself. My inner dialogue went something like this… 

“What is she talking about? I don’t know. What’s an intention? Like a wish? What can I wish for? I don’t know. This is too much to think about- uh oh, it’s time to move on- I guess I’m not setting an intention, or a dedication. Dedication- I totally forgot I could that… oh well, here we go!” 

It was a couple years, after many classes and personal development study, that I truly came to an understanding about the power of intention and the grace of dedication

Let’s break this down so that you can easily and effortlessly come to your mat prepared to make an intention, or dedication, that will leave you feeling empowered and inspired. 


Merriam-Webster says that intention means: 

1. what one intends (plans) to do or bring about 

2. a determination to act in a certain way 

So, when setting an intention at the beginning of class, you are thinking of something that you would like to bring more of into your life, as well as give out to the world. This isn’t about material objects, but a quality or virtue that you’d like to cultivate both in and outside of your yoga practice. Some examples might be: gratitude, forgiveness, peacefulness, being open to receive, love, abundance, letting go, being present, or awareness of breath. 

The purpose of setting an intention is to create a connection between what you work through during your practice and what you continue to keep your focus on as you step back into your

world. While you keep focusing on your intention after yoga, you are elevating your vibration and uplifting those around you creating space for the manifestation of your intention. 


How is a dedication different from an intention? A dedication is a deliberate decision to send a person, place, or thing, some positive energy and to help you stay present through your practice. 

Dedicating your practice to someone or something, allows you to share the positive energy that you create on your mat with the community and world around you. The Universe becomes a more loving, peaceful, and joyful place each time you practice. You can choose to dedicate your practice to a friend, family member, group, place, idea, or your God or higher power. Really, you can set a dedication to anyone or anything that inspires you. 

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha 

The above quote represents how sharing your practice through a dedication does not diminish the benefits you receive, but rather increases them. You may feel happier, lighter, freer, when sharing your practice with your dedication. 

If you’re like me, you may turn to your mat for help with stressful situations or people. Maybe you’re having a rough time at work, or a family member is causing you sadness or frustration. Try dedicating your practice to a challenge in your life to bathe it (or them) in love and light. Sending positive energy to situations or people that are causing discomfort can alleviate some of the negative feelings associated with them. In turn, the good vibes sent their way may spark a change in that person or situation, too. You will create an opportunity for growth and self acceptance as you learn to continually overcome obstacles in your life. 


The beauty of setting an intention or dedication for your yoga practice is that you will call it forth into your life and manifest it by keeping it as the point of focus in your head and heart. When you continually come back to your intention or dedication throughout your practice, you are training yourself to stay committed to this energy when you step off your mat and into the world as well.

Don’t be surprised if you begin to notice powerful changes in your life once you begin the practice of setting an intention or dedication. 

Begin with a single, simple word that is something general you’d like to bring into your life. Peace is always a good place to start. We can all use more peacefulness in our own lives as well as the world collectively. 

Breathe in your intention, breathe it out. Breathe in peace, breathe out peace. 

If it’s a dedication kind of day, choose someone who inspires you or supports you at first. Maybe your spouse, your child, your best friend. Choose someone who brings you joy as you begin this habit. 

Breathe in their name, breathe out their name. Breathe in “Elaina,” breathe out, “Elaina.” 

Much like yoga, each time you come to this practice, it gets easier and easier. Eventually it will become second nature and a part of your yogic ritual. 

However, you don’t need to wait for your instructor to cue you to set an intention or dedication at the beginning of class. Even if they don’t say it, you can set one! 

You don’t need to wait for yoga at all, actually. Setting an intention or dedication can be a daily practice as you get ready in the morning. Pausing in your morning shower to set one. Breathe it in on a walk outside in nature. Perhaps it becomes a nightly routine. As you get ready for sleep, take some deep breaths and focus your heart and head on one quality or virtue, or person, place, or thing. Repeat it three times as you breathe in and out and drift off to sleep. 

The energy that you have created will become a part of you as you have infused your breath and very being with love and light. 

We can’t wait to have you in class and hold space for you to set an intention or dedication. We’ll see you on your mat!


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