By Olya Amburg
At this point, many agree that New Year’s resolutions in their customary form rarely work. To me, they have always felt very “yang”, very masculine in nature. Of course, exceptions apply, but in the world already filled with “shoulds”, fast-moving actions and drive for results, placing even more of this energy on our shoulders does not seem like the best idea.
Just take a look at your resolutions for 2018: how many of them are action and result oriented?
Now, how many are focused on the feeling and the process.
The ratio most likely skews towards the former.
This is not to say we shall just freestyle into the New Year.
Having a direction, an overview of what’s to come provides us with the necessary sense of stability and keeps us grounded.
But we also want to enter the new 365-day unit enlightened by the experience of the past and ultimately light and tension free.
To add some ease to the traditional resolutions and switch their vibe around we can apply some yoga “magic” to them.
1. Choose a theme
If you’ve been to at least several yoga classes you would notice that most of them have a theme. No matter what the theme is it seems to always make the flow more effortless and get you back to the present moment when the mind wonders. So why not choose a theme for the next 365 days? The New Year is your class (a long one ;), your resolutions are the asanas and the theme should make it easier to flow through the class and follow through with the resolutions. Have fun with it, don’t make the theme too broad, e.g. happiness or too narrow, like healthy eating. Make sure every aspect of your life can be positively influenced by the theme of the year.
Here are some good examples:
- a year of trust
- letting go
Find the one that fits your life situation and calls your heart.
2. Find the drishti instead of a resolution
Drishti or the yogic gaze helps to maintain balance and stay grounded even in the hardest asana. Notice that the same Drishti can help us in two completely different poses.
Translating this into the resolution-setting art you can establish a desired gazing point and find multiple ways to practice it depending on you your day-to-day life. Gazing point can be a version of you that you want to see by the end of the year. Describe this version in detail and every morning get back to this image. You would be surprised how seamlessly you will start performing actions, that seamlessly build your path towards this new version of you.
3. Focus on what you want to feel rather than what you want to do
An important clarification here: we are not talking about a short term feeling of satisfaction. This prevents us from building such connections as “I want to feel happy so I’m going to order the biggest pizza and binge-watch Netflix all night” (exceptions as always apply ;). Ask yourself what kind of feeling you want to carry throughout daily life. For instance, I want to feel rejuvenated, energized or inspired. Then take a look at the different parts of your day and see how you can change your routines to feel this way.
There is an important aspect here. Imagine, you know that you feel energized when you get a proper nights rest but you slacked one night and stayed up watching YouTube. In the morning you are grumpy and dissatisfied. If you focus on the action you would just stay grumpy till the evening before you have a chance to actually correct the mistake and go to bed on time. If you focus on the feeling you can tell yourself that the night is gone but there is surely something I can do right now to feel more energized.
4. The Sthira-Sukha of your resolution
A great concept that describes a yoga asana and is worth incorporating into your resolutions is Sthira-Sukha. It is considered that an asana exists only if both sthira “the toughness” and sukha ”the comfort” are present in the pose. These are relevant for a successful resolution too. The sukha would be reflected in making your resolutions achievable, realistic and allow enough flexibility in time and space to work on them.
Apply Sthira or the toughness in acknowledging your progress daily and expressing true self-compassion when the desire for an immediate change (which is not likely to last) takes over.
5. Modification Nation
Another big resolution trap is our reluctance to modify as we go through the year. We just want to strictly follow what was once written down – even though life itself makes adjustments to our path every day, every moment.
So from day one, settle with the necessity to change your resolutions around as time goes by.
Unfortunately often-times we are going into an auto-pilot mode and don’t even realize that what served us in January becomes harmful in June.
Solution? Find time to listen.
6. Find time to listen
Aka – meditate. Many will actually find meditation in the list of resolutions themselves. But a good way to approach it is to consider meditation a tool to stick to the rest of your resolves. You don’t even have to call it meditation. Just find a quiet place and a moment of peace to turn the attention inward and check if your actions still support your desired feelings and established drishti.
7. Do you even Santosha?
One of my favourite words in the yoga vocabulary and the notion that makes any resolution effective is santosha. It is one of the niyamas or the virtues, steps of the eightfold path of yoga described by Patanjali. The word originates from sam “completely” and tosha “contentment”. While complete contentment would have a different meaning for everyone, when it comes to the resolution Santosha can be expressed in a couple of ways. In action doing your best and willingly learning from any result. You can also set your mind to be content with the full effort equal to full victory. Try to express santosha with your looks by simply smiling more often!
This practice will make our happiness more present and less dependent on some specific New Year resolves.
Last, but not least, if you are not sure what is your big resolution for the upcoming year, remember about another yogic notion of ahimsa or non-violence. And apply it to yourself.
Don’t self-loathe or sabotage because you are still searching.
You are just a very special being with a very unique path. Release yourself from what you know about the New Year resolutions. Even from the advice above if it does not resonate.
Make trust in the universe your single intention for the next year.
And enjoy the calm that comes with the belief that your path is unfolding just as it is meant to.
If one of your New year intentions is to make yoga practice a habit – stay tuned. We prepared some great tips to help you out!