by Michelle DeLong: As we ring in the beginning of both another year and another decade…
many of us will set a New Year’s resolution: the good news is, yoga can help you keep yours. Read on to find out how your yoga practice can help you begin new healthy habits that will not only last the year, but will stick around for life. Cheers to new beginnings!
1) Sequence Your New Year’s Resolution Like You Would Your Yoga Practice
If you practice yoga, you already know the importance of good sequencing! Yoga classes are designed to build, maybe culminating in a more advanced posture that you’ve spent the entire class preparing for. You wouldn’t practice dancer’s pose without first opening your hip flexors, would you? Take a lesson from the way you stretch and strengthen your body in yoga class and apply it to your New Year’s resolutions. Instead of making one grand resolution without much of a plan to back it up, break your New Year’s resolution down into manageable steps try to tackle one per month. You might be surprised at how much more you can accomplish when you take small, meaningful steps!
2) Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness, which you already work on and practice during yoga class, is absolutely necessary in keeping your New Year’s resolution. Mindfulness keeps you on track and keeps you focused on the present. If you are able to stay in the present moment, you can better align yourself with the healthy habits you want to incorporate into the new year. When you feel yourself getting distracted and caught up in the story of what’s happening in the future or the past, gently guide yourself back to the present moment. Check in with your five senses and feel, really feel, where you are right now. Mindfulness is a healthy habit in and of itself, and when practiced regularly, it can support other healthy habits and resolutions.
3) Use Your Meditation and Yoga Practice to Hold Yourself Accountable for Your New Year’s Resolution
Do you normally set an intention at the beginning of your yoga practice? Great- you can use this yoga tool to support your New Year’s resolution. At the beginning of class when the teacher prompts you to set an intention, bring your mind back to your resolution or healthy habit that you want to set. If you have a regular meditation practice, even better: try dedicating some time to your focusing on your New Year’s resolution after meditating, when your mind is clear, relaxed, and most receptive to healthy change.
3) Self-Reflect Often
One of the best emotional benefits of being a yogi is the constant process of self-reflection. Yoga teaches us the importance is Svadhyaya, or self-study: in fact, it is one of the Niyamas in Patanjali’s yoga sutras. By understanding and identifying the needs of your ego, you can begin to clearly reflect on yourself. Your motivations, attachments and aversions become clear to you, and you can prevent yourself from projecting them onto others. Self-reflection in the context of yoga is particularly useful in keeping New Years resolutions because it helps you check in and measure your progress, as well as what’s keeping you from making progress.
5) But, Always Practice Ahimsa
Ahimsa, or non-harm, is one of the eight limbs of yoga. While you might first think of non-harm as it applies to other people, animals, or the environment, don’t forget to include yourself! Often our most harmful language and habits are directed at ourselves. Practice non-harm towards yourself as you work towards your goals for 2020. You will certainly make mistakes, even failures, and might feel like you’re backtracking or standing still when you want to be moving forward. If you are practicing ahimsa towards yourself, these negative thoughts will be fleeting rather than overpowering. If you are kind to yourself and respect the process, you’ll be more likely to continue on the path of achieving your goals.