As well as the clear physical benefits that regular yoga practice has to offer, many people roll out their mats because of the emotional and spiritual benefits that it brings. Yoga encourages mindfulness and a commitment to focusing on the present moment. That’s why, when you enter a yoga class, you may be asked by your teacher to set an “intention”. This simply means taking a moment or two to reflect on what you want to bring to your practice on that day.
There are different ways to approach intention-setting in yoga. You might, for example, aim to release stress, commit to being fully present in the moment, or focus on a particular virtue, like patience, gratitude or inner strength. The idea behind setting an intention is that you build a kind of bridge between your yoga practice and the rest of your life. The qualities that you cultivate in your practice become what you focus your mind on when you step off the mat.
However, intention-setting has value beyond yoga and can also be used across all fitness disciplines. It is particularly helpful to boost motivation when you have an ambitious long-term goal that you’re reaching towards. You may not be able to lose 10kg in a single gym session, for example, but you can set an intention for each workout that ultimately help you towards that goal, which could be “I will work hard and get a sweat on” or “I feel strong today, so my workout should reflect that”.
By taking a moment to zero in on what you want to achieve in each individual session, you can avoid that feeling of just “going through the motions” and instead make the connection between the movements you’re doing and the intention you have set for your workout, which will help you to achieve your long-term goals.
It can also prevent the temptation to say, “oh, missing one workout won’t hurt”, which can happen when you’re working towards a huge goal that at times feels unreachable. Focusing on a simple intention and committing to that, instead of focusing on how far from your end goal you are, can be a great motivational tool, especially for people that are new to exercise and still trying to make it a regular part of their life.
It’s not just intention-setting that fitness can learn from yoga. In yoga, there is an emphasis on listening to your body and doing what feels right on the day. Here at Grow, this is something that is super important to us – so while we’ll get you to dig deep and pull out extra reps you didn’t know you had, we will never push you to do more than you feel capable of in our strength classes.
As personal trainers, our instructors often see people pushing themselves too hard at the gym – whether that’s refusing to take a rest day when they’re ill, or struggling to lift weights that are clearly too heavy. This will never happen at Grow. While we want you to be challenged and work hard, we also want the workout to be effective and fun. It will be neither of those things if you refuse to listen to your body!
It’s all about getting the balance right. Our instructors are all qualified personal trainers and care deeply about making each workout effective, efficient and energetic – which is why they dedicate time together each and every week to put together and road test their workouts.
Yoga is also about gratitude, in other words appreciating your body for what it allows you to do. This relates to another core belief that we have at Grow: exercise should be a celebration of what you can do and how much stronger you feel after working hard. You may hate burpees, for instance, but the fact that you can do them – albeit begrudgingly – is actually pretty amazing. Working out is a privilege, as we have the ability to move our body in ways that others can’t. A mindset shift is needed for some of us – working out should not be viewed a chore or an obligation, nor should it be a punishment for enjoying a pizza the night before. You don’t “HAVE” to go and workout, you “GET” to go and workout! Sweat, stretch, strengthen – gratefully.
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If you ever want to chat to one of our trainers about your goals, don’t hesitate – they’d be more than happy to talk to you before or after class!