It’s that time of year again, when the dreaded “R” word threads its way into our vernacular. A new year is about to commence, bringing with it a rapidly spreading fever and overwhelming desire to declare our resolutions. And, yes, I’ve caught the fever too, as I’ve already posted my dream poses for 2012.

For the record, I don’t like to set resolutions, and worse yet, I really don’t like posting them up on The Daily Downward Dog (just a little public accountability issue I have). Last year, I set a goal for myself to embrace my meditation practice. I was on fire with my love of meditation and still am. I can’t say that I meditated each and every day, but I did deepen my practice, and that will continue to be a goal I set for myself each and every year.

Rather than getting hung up on setting long-range resolutions, I thought this might be a good time to focus on setting intentions. Intentions to me are bite-sized resolutions, and one of the reasons I dig them is that I can set a new one each and every time I come to the yoga mat.

I always love it when a yoga instructor asks the class to set an intention for their practice. The good yogini in me knows that these intentions should be focused on things like staying present while on the yoga mat or stopping myself from being so judgmental about how far my heels are from the floor in downward facing dog. But, the aggressive Type-A yogini in me occasionally likes to throw in a few intentions about the things that I want to manifest in my life.

Now that I’m a yoga teacher, I get to share that practice by including a few quiet moments at the beginning of class where I ask my students to close their eyes and focus on their intentions. I explain the importance of setting an intention, and I caution them to be careful and to aim high because, according to yogi and author Max Strom, our minds really do want to do their best to give us what we ask for.

To provide a little guidance on the practice of setting intentions, I offer my students a few examples to gently nudge them in the right direction. I shared this list back in October on, and now I want to share my top ten yoga intentions with you here.

Intentions should always be stated in a positive way, so here goes…

Top 10 Yoga Intentions

  1. Let go of baggage and move on. (You know, those grudges you hold, the people you need to forgive, relationships that need to end, etc.)
  2. Make a transition in my life. (Are you thinking about a move or a transition in your life in 2012? Set an intention to get you on the right track or to ask for guidance to get you where you want to go.)
  3. Unleash my fears. (This is especially good for new yoga students who may have some trepidation on their yoga mats.)
  4. Be more patient. (You can apply this to just about any area of your life. ‘Nuf said!)
  5. Open my heart (and mind) and send this love out into the world.
  6. Practice being non-judgmental of myself and others.
  7. Find my purpose in life. (Personal intentions are fine; just don’t put out intentions to win the lottery. Instead, ask for ways to make a difference and to help others.)
  8. Choose to be happy. (We have so many choices we can make in life. Choosing to be happy is pretty damn simple and always provides an excellent return on investment.)
  9. Let go of stress – not only for the next 60 minutes on my yoga mat, but also as I go through my week off the yoga mat.
  10. Free my monkey mind and let go of the incessant chatter – to let my mind be free and immersed in the union of the body and the breath.

In reality, this list can never be limited to just ten, and really, the most important thing is to listen to your heart and to use your yoga mat to begin your very own spiritual journey.

Whatever your intention is, repeat it to yourself three times, and as you breathe in a deep inhale, imagine it sealing into your heart. Just remember to practice caution because when you direct your mind and heart in a new direction, it can be very powerful!

So, if you’re beating yourself up over unrealized 2011 resolutions or are having trouble settling into the new year, forget about those lofty resolutions and set some economy-sized intentions on a daily basis – both on and off the yoga mat. Live in the present and stay mindful, attaining peace and serenity one day at a time!

Would love to hear about your intentions for the coming year, so please share your thoughts below.

If you’re hankering for more New Year’s inspiration check out my 2010 New Year’s Eve monologue and yoga class playlist!