Skip to content

New Year, New You

January 7, 2013

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.

-Raymond Lindquist


It is a tried and true path: making resolutions for the new year.  According to one government website (What? The Department of New Year’s Resolutions, a Division of the Internal Resolution Service?), some of the most popular resolutions made by Americans are:

  • Drink Less Alcohol
  • Eat Healthy Food
  • Get a Better Education
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get Fit/Lose Weight
  • Manage Debt/Save Money
  • Manage Stress
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  • Take a Trip
  • Volunteer to Help Others

How might we approach making new beginnings from a yogi’s point of view? How do we take the lessons from the mat and apply them to resolve for the new year, the new “us” that is now beginning?

First, to be a yogi, you have to show up – that is, yoga cannot be done only in the mind.  We have to show up, roll out the mat and be ready for class.  In other words, intention in action is where we begin.  A resolution is an intention; for it is be meaningful, pair it with action.

Second, although it is lovely to contort impressively in a yoga class, the real yoga happens not when we violate basic, good form but when we do less but do it right.  (Okay, a confession: it seems a little silly to me to contort but lose form on small things, like straight fingers or breath.) Start small; rather than committing to “This year I will …”, start with a week, a day, or a month.  One day at a time, say the wise ones.

Third, there is great power in practicing yoga in a group setting.  The intention, focus and good energy of others can be a great joy and powerful motivator.  In creating resolutions, seek people and groups that can offer support, assistance and encouragement.

Fourth, yoga is as much about “doing” as it is about letting go. In any posture, we are focusing effort and intention toward some expression of a pose, but the deepest yogis are also simultaneously holding the question “Where do I need to let go in order to go deeper?”  It may be so subtle you can’t see it on the outside.  In creating resolutions, consider not only what must be done but also what must be released – especially in the area of thoughts, attitudes and mental “postures”.

Fifth, one of my teachers regularly reminds us “this is just yoga practice”.  Recently she spotted me pursing my lips like some meanspirited school marm in standing bow. [I looked at my face in the mirror and all I could think of was that music from The Wizard of Oz where the mean lady, Miss Gulch, who becomes the Wicked Witch, is frantically pedaling her bicycle with that exact same look on her face. Watch the clip here – it will forever plant an image in your mind. Ugh.]  Remember to bring a lightness, a joy, a relaxed Buddha smile to your practice and to your resolutions. Don’t be Miss Gulch!!

It takes a great deal of courage to create intentional change in our lives – no matter how large or small.  Applying the lessons of yoga – intention, patience, measuredness, community, letting go and joy – can be a great aid in supporting such changes.  And remember: every time you step on the mat, you are starting over.  Whether your resolutions come at the new year, your birthday or every morning, you are always a new you.

-By Rabbi Chava Bahle

One Comment leave one →
  1. newagenerd permalink
    January 8, 2013 2:37 am

    I agree strongly with the idea of focusing on the intention, and creating change in action as well as mind. I find consistency the most difficult of all that involves change. If we stick to just doing, our mere practice, you notice how that in turn shapes your mind. From the most deepest intentions we learn to follow our heart, where even reason can’t fathom. There will always be excuses; rationalizing for not coming to the mat, or keeping up with things that you have set goals on. True courage comes from the ability to persist in the midst of chaos that surrounds you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: