In your yoga practice, you make space through stretching and breathing - space to allow for a deeper practice or a deeper release. In our lives, we can also create space to allow for new growth, new intentions, and new changes. Yoga can be a tool to accomplish this as you move into a new year.
As you set an intention for the new year, first take time to reflect on the past year. Take a moment to think, without judgement or criticism, about your actions, your achievements, your failures, the good and the bad times. As you cultivate this awareness, send gratitude towards yourself, honor your work, your accomplishments, and your mistakes. Give yourself permission to let go of the things that no longer serve you, things that you no longer need to hold on to. As you let go and release, you can create space for new experiences. From here, you can set your intention for the new year.
Lisa Moak, in an article on Elephant Journal, recommends making anti-resolutions - instead of putting effort into breaking a bad behavior, put effort into creating a new, healthy habit.
Catherine Guthrie in a Yoga Journal article writes about sankalpa, which translated from sanskrit means will, purpose, or determination. To set a sankalpa is to set an intention, however focusing on the root of the change or goal by engaging conscious and positive actions towards oneself.
Kripalu, in their New Year's article, seeks advice from Rolf Gates and Aruni Nan Futuronsky. Yoga teacher Rolf Gates states, “Every new year is an opportunity to reflect upon who we are, what we experienced, and what we want to accomplish. Through reflection comes awareness, the foundation from which skillful action can arise.”
Aruni Nan Futuronsky, Kripalu's Senior Life Coach, believes that the expectations we put upon ourselves this time of year can derail us. Though she says it’s good to have New Year’s goals, Aruni suggests looking at them through a mindful, yogic lens. Instead of making “resolutions,” which can be constricting, she frames them as “intentions.” When we pressure ourselves to have certain outcomes without room to falter, we feel defeated if we end up, say, skipping the gym or having that slice of chocolate cake. Setting an intention offers a more compassionate approach. “It gives us permission to practice, which is not about getting it ‘right’ but about cultivating patience and tolerance with ourselves on our path, to soften around our expectations,” Aruni says.
Making small changes, day by day, can also be an effective way to accomplish your intention. Change is a gradual process and needs to be made with love and compassion for oneself, and allowing yourself to let go and forgive mistakes.
Sarah Britton, recommend making one small change a day in the kitchen to make better food choices that good your body, good for your soul, and good for the earth. You watch her TED talk here.