One of the main principles in my yoga practice is the idea of Intention: the Intention with which we move our bodies from one asana to another, the Intention with which we take a backbend or a forward bend, the Intention we breath in and out of our bodies. As soon as we commit to an intention, it becomes encoded into every cell of our body and is transmitted into the Universe, where it can begin to manifest in our everyday, material life.
To Practice for the sake of Practice itself, without intention, doesn't actually have that much value. In fact, it can even be dangerous. If we do not consciously direct the energy generated in our subtle body during practice, then that energy (like all energy!) will flow down the path of least resistance. Instead of setting new, positive pathways in our minds, it will move through those neuro-pathways we have already created, neuro-pathways that correspond to old habits and beliefs. This simply reinforces pathways we are trying to change. Undirected energy leaks out of us according to our daily emotional ups and downs, making our "weak" points and the negative patterns of our minds even more set. Setting a clear intention allows the energy we create to serve us as we choose.
The Intention we set before we start the Practice encodes and dedicates energy to a higher goal. Intention is a prayer, a gratitude, a vector of our attention. We set an Intention for each movement, for each breath, for each moment of our practice on the mat, connecting body, Mind and Spirit. Then this Practice becomes a portal, a doorway through which we step into another level of Understanding our Consciousness. We use Intention as an Instrument to know ourselves better and transform ourselves and our reality. We create our Way and our Life.