The purpose of yoga is to calm the distractions of the mind. It is not yoga unless there is intention and ease–no forcing or straining. Intention can be thought of as dedicating the yoga practice session to bring oneself wellness and well-being. A good default intention is “to give myself permission to be present in each moment, letting go of any attachment to past experience or future expectations.”

Intention setting is not easy. It takes practice. I am practicing yoga and meditation for years, and I am still practicing intention. Our inner critic is a worthy adversary. The inner critic has a gift for finding ways to sabotage us. It does not take much to undermine an intention to stay present — dwelling in the present moment without regret of the past, fear of the future, or failure in the present.

If holding an intention is so difficult for an adult, how does a child practice this? And moreover, how does a child with special needs, particularly autism spectrum disorders? It would be a great gift to teach this level of attention to someone with attention deficits.

Even though your child may not be aware of setting an intention for the yoga session, the attentive yoga teacher/yoga therapy practitioner/parent can “hold the intention” for the student.

Add to this, “I stay loose. I do not allow my inner critic to sabotage my intention by finding fault if and when I lose my focus on the present moment and get caught up in a self-critical story.