Columnist Susanna Harwood Rubin, Author of Yoga 365
One of the most real, authentic, engaging teachers we know. She teaches yoga, meditation and Writing Your Practice workshops and online courses
Just as we practice yoga to open our physical bodies, we need wellness practices to open our spiritual selves. In our daily lives, we tend to constrain our desires and aspirations in order to get things done. We build internal walls of tension and frustration. We feel as if our personal purpose has been stifled. How do we counter this? We need to draw our thoughts and desires out of our bodies and give them a life in the world. By engaging in a daily intention-setting ritual that dissolves constraints, we can better open the gateways to our natural creative flow. This morning ritual will help you to move through your day with a sense of purpose AND ease. Commit to at least five minutes each morning, and when you feel compelled, continue for as long as you wish. You may end up lingering in the sweetness of the practice.
Set an Intention for Your Day
Before your mind is cluttered with to-do lists or distracted by technology, begin your day by sitting up in bed or on a meditation cushion with your eyes closed. Ask yourself: What word or phrase embodies my wishes for today? Let that word or phrase bubble up in your mind. It might surprise you, but don’t doubt it—you might think you need energy, but your quiet morning mind might offer up ease, curiosity, humor or strength. Listen to your instinct and honor your intuition.
Intention for Today:
Intentions for the Week:
Intentions for the Month:
2. Breathe Life into Your Intention
Next, begin a four-part breathing practice, holding your intention at the forefront of your consciousness. As you inhale for four counts, envision breathing directly into your intention, expanding it throughout your body. At the top of the breath, pause for four counts, relaxing your body around the fullness of the breath, letting your intention expand in the stillness. As you exhale for four counts, release anything cluttering up your intention—the obstacles of the mind and heart. Pause again for four counts at the bottom of the breath, and in this pause, allow your intention to take root. Practice several rounds of this pranayama, and throughout your day, remember that this quiet, centered feeling is accessible any time you need it.
3. Put It into Words
Opening your eyes, write down your intention, describing how you feel inside your body at this moment and how you will carry this feeling throughout your day. Commit to writing one to two sentences minimum, not worrying about style, spelling, grammar or anything else. Writing releases and writing actualizes, drawing our intentions out of our bodies, giving them shape and form in order to begin manifesting them. This ritual will set the tone for your day, offering you the stability and direction of an intention, the spaciousness to grow your intention, and the ability to begin manifesting your intention in the world.