This post was originally published on Sutra Seekers blog on January 17, 2019.
The romance of yoga in the New Year is sweet. A new calendar year invites us to begin again. The new year is a time to create healthy intentions and make a goal to step into our best selves. It may be the Christmas hangover, the weight of winter, or the daily increase of sunlight that inspires us to reconnect with who we are.
Whatever the reason, this time of year is an inspiring and empowering time to commit to a lifestyle to strengthen your happiest and healthiest self. Here is a time where we remember our values and who we long to be. This is when we remember the importance of our yoga practice! Yoga is a physical and mental exercise.
This new year, commit to your practice in (at least) these types of yoga: Asana (poses), Jnana (knowledge), and Pranayama (breathing techniques). As a yoga teacher, I’ll give you strategies to calm and strengthen your body, mind, and spirit – in that order.
Yoga Asana for the New Year
Asanas are where we spend most of our time within a typical yoga class. They’re the physical shapes that we move our body into during a yoga sequence. Here are my top two yoga poses to usher in a happy New Year.
- Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
- Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
The first part of any new beginning is releasing what no longer serves you. As a twisting posture, Parivrtta Trikonasana is a great pose to squeeze out stagnant energy and old habits. Here are some tips to get more detoxification from the posture:
- If you start from a wide-legged pose like Warrior II, you might not be able to twist deeply. Narrow your stance to give your torso more room to turn.
- Broaden your chest by focusing on the direction of your arms. Aim the top hand straight above your heart and consider hooking the bottom fingers around your big toe.
Out with the old and in with the new! Once you’ve made space with some twisting, invite your intention with a heart opener like Anjayeasana.
This pose gets its name from Anjana, who prayed so devotedly that the gods finally gifted her with a son. As a low pose with hands outstretched to the sky, this posture is the physical representation of Anjana’s devotion to her intention. To emphasize the spirit of intention-setting, make the following adjustments:
- Keep your front leg close enough that you can reach above your head while maintaining stability.
- Lift your gaze proudly to the heavens. If that doesn’t feel good on your neck, keep your eyes closed and visualize your intention.
Jnana Yoga for the New Year
Jnana yoga is the yoga of knowledge. It’s the mental exercise of self-study and the application of yogic philosophy to our life. Patanjali, the father of Astanga Yoga, gave us this invitation.
Atha Yoga Anushasanum.
This sutra is the continual encouragement to step into your best self. Here’s what it means.
- Atha: Now. The ever-renewing principle of right now, at this very auspicious moment. It implies that every step of your life has brought you to this very important place.
- Yoga: Connection. Embrace the moment with clarity. This is union, balance, and a harmonious state of mind.
- Anu: Follows. Or, to go with the grain
- Shasanum: Discipline. The work to sharpen your sword of discrimination so you can pierce through the layers of bullshit and remember the point.
One of the benefits of yoga is the constant suggestion to take an elevated perspective in every moment of your life. As you walk into the New Year, hold onto your intentions with dedication!
It doesn’t take a fancy yoga instructor to see each experience with more clarity and greater appreciation, but it does take commitment.
Pranayama Yoga for the New Year
Pranayama is Sanskrit for energy control – in other words, breathing exercises. Breath control is the fastest route to our nervous system, and in my opinion, the spirit. To capture the spirit of the New Year, try Kapalabhati – skull shining breath.
Use Kapalabhati as a mental reset button. Reinvite a fresh perspective with the breath. Kapalabhati is an advanced technique that can cause dizziness if not practiced correctly. Come see me at a 200-hour yoga teacher training to learn all about it 😉
Kapalabhati is all about freshness. The freshness has us lovingly look life in the eyes again. It’s like the first breath of yoga and meditation or the first year with a lover. We see clearly. We appreciate the magic of life. We elevate above our small self, and its deeply ingrained mental patterns and we plug into something bigger. Beginnings are favorable as we feel held while we give more effort to be our best self and enjoy whispering sweet nothings of hopes, dreams, and goals for the future.
But, then we forget.
We eat sugar, we miss yoga for happy hour, we stop waking up early… we stop paying attention in meditation (or quit meditating completely!) We lose the sparkle in our lovers and get mad at them for not stacking the dishes correctly.
We ignore the gift of this fragile and fleeting life.
We miss the point of this amazing opportunity to be a spirit in a body.
It’s normal. We love short-term comfort. How are your 2022 intentions on week 3 of the year?
I am not interested in the word resolutions, because there is nothing for you to resolve. Last year, and the last three weeks, were the building blocks to who you are today. Stand back up. You have climbed so far, you have grown so much, and you are stronger than your mind lets you think.
Start again now. Fall back in love with yourself and your life. Cuddle back up to life’s unbelievable beauty and see your sparkle reflected in its eye again.
Remind me to do so as well, will ya?!