I have a strained relationship with New Year’s resolutions, which are made with good intentions but quickly forgotten or dropped as life descends after the holidays. This year, rather than framing my resolutions as things I “shouldn’t” do, or things I want to stop, I have made a few positive New Year’s resolutions to guide my actions and keep me focused in the year ahead.
1. Do more yoga! Ok, this one may seem obvious or even unnecessary, but I think it’s important. Doing yoga doesn’t simply involve attending class, although going to yoga class is wonderful! Yoga is something we can do all day, every day. I am making it a point to practice as much conscious breathing as I can while I’m at work. You can recite mantras while you drive or cook. Perhaps you might dedicate one day a week to spending time focusing on your loved ones or hobbies that feed your soul. The beauty of yoga is that we can carry yogic ideals with us everywhere we go, and practice as many times as we remember each day.
2. Consider complimenting your existing practice with something new. I have always believed that everyone can benefit from trying something new and different. Exploring different traditions can deepen your appreciation for your current practice, while also exposing you to new ideas or groups of people. Personally, I am adding in a vipassana style meditation practice to my daily routine, which has so far been incredibly eye-opening and interesting. If you’re a devoted hatha yogi, try Kundalini yoga or go to a kirtan. If Kundalini yoga rocks your world, try out an Iyengar class or some hot yoga. At the very least, you’ll firm your commitment to your current practice. At best, your eyes will be opened to a new and complimentary world!
3. Commit to eating well. Eating well affects everything about a person. Your body feels better, your thinking is more clear, and your emotions can be more balanced. Conversely, eating poorly can negatively affect all aspects of your being. If you want to eat better in the year ahead, there are lots of simple steps you can take to improve your diet as gradually or quickly as you like. Visit your local farmer’s market or sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. Commit to cooking in a set number of times a week, rather than eating out. At the grocery store, shop the periphery rather than the aisles so you can avoid the processed, packaged items. Cut back or eliminate refined sugars and caffeine. And most importantly, go easy on yourself. The occasional high-quality treats and cheats should be savored, rather than act as a tool for guilt.
4. Connect with people. I admit this one can be tough for me. I would much rather do my yoga practice in the privacy of my own home, away from the eyes and ears of others. But now that we have entered the Aquarian Age, it’s time to reach out and connect with others who can support us on our path. If you live in a place with a thriving yoga community, make sure you avail yourself of all it has to offer in the way of classes, kirtan, and interaction. If you live in an area with few yogis, make it your goal to travel to a larger city for workshops or festivals. Attend Sat Nam Fest in May or August, or catch your favorite kirtan artist on tour in your region. Making these experiences, frequent or infrequent, a priority will keep you motivated in your practice!
5. Practice gratitude! When news about the economy or politics gets me down, practicing gratitude helps me remember all of the wonderful things that are already in my life. It also helps me to find the positive aspects of situations I might normally dislike. Cold days are a great reminder to be grateful for the changing of the seasons. When a dish I cook doesn’t turn out well, it makes me appreciate all the more the ones that are good! Play Snatam Kaur’s “Aad Guray Nameh” from the album Live in Concert and give thanks for all of the blessings in your life!