Reason #20: Yoga helps us act with intention

We've all heard of professional athletes visualizing themselves winning weeks, even months, before a major competition. They rehearse the movements, imagine the sensations, and picture the event in as granular detail as possible. They do this over and over, setting their intention and visualizing it becoming a reality.

Studies of the brain help explain why this practice of intention setting and visualization is so powerful. In a Harvard Medical School research study, Neuroscientist Pascual-Leone had one group of participants play a simple piano exercise for a week. He had a second group just think about playing the music, holding their hands still but imagining how they'd move their fingers. The result was that he saw similar changes in the brain in both of the groups, concluding that mere thoughts can alter the physical structure of our brains. That's powerful stuff!

Our yoga practice teaches us to move into each new pose with intention. It also creates a time and space in our day to clear our minds of negative thoughts and set good intentions for the future. Each time we do this we change our brains and make it more likely that we will follow-through with our intentions.

With the start of the new year only a few weeks away, take some time to set your intentions for 2016. Visualize yourself following through with specific detail. And do this again and again, knowing each time you reinforce your intentions through your practice, you are that much closer to success!