NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS AND YOGA
January is a popular time to make resolutions about health such as losing weight, getting more physically fit, and eating better. Gym and studio memberships spike, athletic apparel companies see increased sales, and our social media feeds are flooded with content about starting fresh.
Although the idea of a blank slate is filled with potential, let’s pause here and ask ourselves, do we just throw out everything we did last year?
Didn’t we learn important lessons that contribute to our growth in our personal and professional lives?
Don’t we want to build on those lessons for continued betterment and evolution?
BECOMING “GOOD” AT YOGA
Resolutions are usually about trying to improve, but we don’t usually say that we’re trying to get better at yoga. That implies we are bad at yoga, and there’s no such thing. The beauty of yoga is that you realize once you’re in class none of that matters. Those are concerns of the ego and yoga helps balance our egos with the rest of our world. Instead, getting better at yoga is about building on the foundation we have already established.
Developing a practice is a personal journey that is fluid and constantly changing. Although flexibility and strength are two benefits of a regular yoga practice, those traditionally physical standards of measurement are not the only way to deepen our practice.
SOME PRACTICES WILL BE BETTER THAN OTHERS
The great thing about yoga is it is a humbling experience. We might show up to class because we know we should be there, but we’re not honestly present in the moment. However, once class is underway, there’s inevitably a transformation that we can’t help but notice and be grateful for. We relax our perceptions and expectations and join in the flow.
Even if we had minimal focus coming in and were not really “there” at first, at some point in class the practice grounds us and nourishes us so that fresh energy is cultivated and released. We come into our bodies on a deeper level. We are able to appreciate the balance and fortitude that we seek and that is always available to us on the mat.
Whether we are newer to yoga or experienced, yoga offers us opportunities to rise to new challenges and experiences. Those opportunities can be fleeting on the mat, but we can apply those lessons off the mat in our daily lives.
We can be easy on our bodies one day and we can try to take a pose to the next level on another day where we feel particularly strong. We can have an intention ready to go one day before we even walk in the door, or we can just come and feel it out in the moment. Maybe an intention will become clear to us halfway through class. Maybe we’ll loosen up our necks after sitting too long in front of the computer.
The best way to deepen our practice is to practice more. Some other ideas to consider to increase mindfulness include coming to class on a regular schedule and considering a teacher training. Even if you never plan to teach, understanding the teachings will help expand your practice and your yogic lifestyle.
Yoga can be a tool to help us come back to ourselves. It is an opportunity to be in a safe space to be able to relax. When we are of relaxed mind and body, we can pause. That pause is a chance for us to come into the present moment. In that peace we can feel safe to look around and notice all the good in our lives.
RESOLVE TO BREATHE
This is one resolution we know we can most definitely keep!
The holidays often leave us out of breath. This January, let’s use the collective energy of renewal and rejuvenation to build on our practice and deepen it. Let’s look at yoga as a reminder to pay attention to our breath throughout the day. Let’s resolve to bring more prana, or life force and positive energy, into our days.
Notice the depth and space between breaths as we’re brushing our teeth, cooking, working, reading this right now. Are our bodies in synch with our breath’s speed and volume? Would a few deep breaths help better align our mind and body with the moment? Would it make us feel better?
Awareness of the moment turns into presence. With that presence, gratitude flows for everything we have and all that we can create ourselves and with our communities. Together, let’s enjoy 2020 and welcome in all of the breaths of fresh air that it holds for us.