Imagine a New Year With Yoga
The New Year beckons us to make promises of renewal commitments to healthier practices, improved organization, controlled finances, and deliberation in relationships. While we intend these promises to be motivating, they can be a set up for failure. Of course we all know what we ought to do to improve our lives, but constant vigilance is a heavy burden.
Instead of worrying about the whole year, perhaps the path to your best self focuses on the moment you are in rather than the next 12 months. In this moment while you are reading this article, are you thinking of yourself as out-of-shape, worn-out, disorganized, or otherwise unworthy? Why not close your eyes for a moment and allow yourself to take in a deep slow breath, letting go of your self-judgment as you exhale?
Yoga is an excellent tool in learning to focus on the present moment. The ancient practice of yoga encourages attention to your body, breath, and mind in a variety of physical poses. Just as you find yourself in different situations throughout your day, in yoga you learn to notice how you feel in different physical poses. You create an opportunity to breathe deeply as your body works and rests, to notice how your mind reacts during the challenge of each pose, using your breath find relaxation in the effort of the stretch.
With regular practice, yoga translates into increased self-awareness off the mat. Rather than worrying about a certain number on the scale, yoga teaches you how to notice your self in the present moment. Learning to observe and accept yourself, you can stop beating yourself up about your weight and learn to love your body, losing weight from within. In the awareness of our physical self, we come closer to our own spiritual self, our true nature.
Vietnamese poet and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh says “If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.” Perhaps this New Year is the one to stop missing everything to become truly present.
Rather than make a list to mark your shortcomings throughout the year, simply bring your awareness to the moment you're in, and perhaps take a deep breath. Let your New Year's Resolutions become This Moment Resolutions, letting go of all your self-reproach to clear a space for your true self. Let the practice of yoga not only stretch your body, but also relax your mind and free your spirit.