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Setting Your Focus and Intent

Posted by terrepruitt on November 3, 2009

In a Nia workout class* there are seven cycles. The first cycle is setting your focus and intent. In my classes before we step in, cycle two, I state the focus and the intent of the class. Every once in awhile I do remind my students that they are welcome to set their own focus and intent, but there is always a class focus and intent.

Nia teachers are supplied with and can purchase routines. With our routines comes a focus and intent. We receive the routine DVD along with a pamphlet that explains what the routine’s original focus and intent was. Nia teachers are encouraged to change focuses and intents. In fact, in addition to the one main focus and intent, there is a list of optional foci and intents.

I was reminded on a Nia teleconference call recently, that a focus is what you give your attention to, in order to get a desired result. And not only can you have a focus and intent for the workout, but you can carry that focus and intent throughout the day.

As an example, let’s say the focus of the class is set on shoulders, with the intent of remembering to keep them down and not scrunch them up toward the ears. So during the entire Nia class, I will remind myself and the class that we are focusing on our shoulders. When we lift our arms to part the clouds we will be conscious of keep our shoulders down. When we swim as we do our side steps I might remind the class to keep a long graceful neck (which can be achieved by holding the shoulders down). Throughout the class with each movement we will be focusing on our shoulders which could assist in strengthening the muscles in our back and enable us to keep them down where they belong. Then after class the focus and intent can be carried out into the day.

If you find yourself holding your phone with your shoulder hunched up toward your ear you have the opportunity to stop, which would help you keep the intent. Since you have set your shoulders as a focus you would be more likely to notice. Or while you are on the computer you might notice your shoulders bunched up around your ears and you could be aware of that and choose to sit up straight and pull your shoulders down.

In class we move to music and sometimes students might be concerned that the first time they participate they cannot move their feet AND their arms, so I often set the focus as one or the other. I might set the focus on the upper extremities, with the intent to move them in a conscious manner connecting to the music. Then I remind them that as they concentrate on their hands and arms it is ok if their feet are not perfect. That sometimes helps people to move more freely and actually focus on the focus.

These are just examples of foci and intents. There are an endless number of foci and intents. These examples are body related, but you can, of course, make your focus anything to get the intent you desire.  If you were setting a focus and intent for your workout, what would it be?  What would it be if you were going to carry it from your workout into your day?

(Want a tip on how to remember your focus throughout your day?)

*I make the distinction because there is also the Nia 5 Stages classes which is different

14 Responses to “Setting Your Focus and Intent”

  1. judy said

    I love this post! At the end of my yoga session each morning I “set my intent” for the day, but it is always something non-physical. (During NaNoWriMo, it is often, “Get out of my own way!” 😉 But I never thought of maintaining the physical intent I have during my workout throughout the day.

    That’s brilliant! Your example is perfect for me because I’ve been having shoulder blade pain. When I do my yoga, I always think about my shoulders and try to pay close attention to them. Then I promptly forget about them for the rest of the day (unless they hurt).

    Trying your idea tomorrow! Thank you!


    • Yes, a lot of people have intentions for their day. A lot of coaches support that.

      Having a focus is a way to help us achieve our intent.

      In class we have other foci aside from just physical ones, but for a post it is easier to explain using a physical example. It also is easier with a physical example to show how it can be taken into the rest of your day.

      The focus for a White Belt is the physical body, the anatomy of the body, the Nia Technique, and the Nia moves, so it is great to play with all the endless combinations.

      Recently the class focus was calm and the intent was to be able to stay connected to “calm” even as we were working out, working up a sweat, and getting wild with the music. There are all kinds of foci and intent. It is one of the things that helps make Nia so fun because you can have different foci and intents that you can take out into your day.

      Good luck with focusing on your shoulders. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Hi Terre,

    One of things, I think, that separates Nia from any other body-centered approach, is the setting of the focus at the beginning of class and carrying that focus through to the end of class — and beyond.

    My focus for last night’s class was “stability of The Base (feet and legs) while creating expressive arm and hands movements. One might think this to be something specific to a Nia class…but think about it…how many times are we called upon in our daily activities to find stability while creating? How often do we find that our upper body and lower body interact and coordinate — WALKING for example!!!! HA!

    Love the post Terre. Very informative and clear.


    • Yes, ONE of the things that separates Nia from other workouts. I am thinking you mentioned another in your sentence, you said “body-centered” where other practices that might be more familiar to people are “mind-centered” or “mind/body”, we say Nia is “body/mind”.

      That is one reason why some of my favorite foci are physical ones, as you mentioned you did a focus on stability of the base (feet and legs) and your intent was even somewhat physical with arm and hand movements. The “non-physcial” part would be the “creating expressive” which just opens door to just about anything.

      Our class focus was The Joy of Movement (JOM) with the intent of connecting to creative movement.

      And JUST like you said, your class could take that focus of stability in the base with the intent of being expressive and creative with the arms and hands out into their evening. As with my students, they could take the Joy of Movement out into their day and move through their day’s movements with creativity.

      Thank you so much for sharing, Jill. It is always a pleasure!


  3. I focus on a good day. To get my focus anchored I start my day by smooching my wife. So far, it takes a lot of effort to have my day go south. Commitment and intent. Focus and goal setting. Analysis, analytics and assesment. May seem like a lot of work, but I do have some great days. Even if not, I get a smooch in the mornin’ 😉


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