4 New Year's Resolutions for Yogis
New Year’s Day allows us to reflect on the past year and set new intentions, cleansing ourselves of the past and starting fresh for the present and the future. While we are also given these opportunities every time we step on the mat, the holiday is wonderfully encouraging, and resolutions are on everyone’s minds and lips.
As yoga teachers and students, our practice is deeply embedded with our life and work. I’m sharing just a few of my yoga-related New Year’s Resolutions; if you’re stuck and haven’t claimed any resolutions yet, feel free to share and steal mine!
Practice Yoga...Off the Mat
Aiming to do more sun salutations or work on handstands are common resolutions, but let’s not forget that yoga is more than just a physical practice for many. Take advantage of the mental and spiritual elements of yoga this year.
But what exactly does this mean? In order to deepen your yoga practice off the mat, you could:
- Read more about yoga history (including Iyengar’s Light on Yoga or The Yoga Sutras)
- Read more about other yogic paths, including karma and bhakti yoga
- Reflect on the different elements of yama and niyama
- Take extra time to meditate
- Try a vegetarian or vegan diet
Keeping your home clean is yoga, just as much as hitting a handstand is yoga. In order to deepen your practice, we can all look at how we practice yoga out of the asana practice.
Try Different Types of Yoga
It goes without saying that our yoga practice can put us in a strict routine. We may practice the same poses, in the same room, at the same time of day, based on what we were taught or what we enjoy. In the past few years, yoga has exploded into a form of fitness that turns tradition on its head (and we don’t mean in a sirsasana kind of way.) Asanas are used to sell products on social media. Yoga classes are sold with the promise of some rather non-traditional elements. With all of these new developments come confusion and criticism. As much as we may not like to admit it, we’ve all participated in the drama of judging other forms of yoga.
I know I’m not alone when I say that yoga has helped me let go of many forms of judgment: judgement of myself, judgment of my situation, judgment of others, etc. Putting down other forms of yoga, whether they follow traditional rules or not, puts us back into a judging mindset and begins to unravel the work we’ve done on the mat. We may be quick to bad-mouth a beer-fueled yoga class or a flow with a heavy metal soundtrack, but let’s keep an open mind about new types of yoga. The best way to do that is to get on the mat, without judgement, and experience new types of yoga. This doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your current practice, but adding in an extra class that you wouldn’t normally visit may help you widen your perspective and learn something new about the practice.
Leave Instagram for After Practice
Instagram and social media can be wonderful tools for motivation and marketing as yogis, but we all know how too much scrolling can be frustrating or distracting. During home practices, I find myself thinking about poses and intentions as they relate to hashtags or social media strategy (it doesn’t help that I work in digital marketing on the side!) As a newer teacher, seeing photos of advanced poses, ones that I just simply don’t have the core or arm strength (yet) for, can be disheartening. And neither of those feelings or trains of thought are productive during a Sun Salutation!
One of my biggest resolutions this year is to leave Instagram out of my thoughts and off of my phone until after my practice is over. My practice is my time, and it should not be drifting to a more advanced yogi’s perfect scorpion pose.
Spread Some Happiness!
I’ll wrap up this post with one of my favorite mantras is a Sanskrit prayer: “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.”
(लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु) It translates to, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
Beautiful, right? The phrase emphasizes spreading love and positivity throughout the world, which makes for a pretty noble (and daunting) mission. I love this phrase because it combines hope with intention. This is a resolution on its own, focusing on how each and every one of our thoughts and actions can contribute to a better world for all. As yogis, we work on this mission every time we get on our mat or teach a class. Keeping this mantra in the back of your head will keep your smiling and positive whether you are on the mat, in front of the class, or just living your daily life!
What are your New Year’s Resolutions, yogis?