Yoga and Meditation: The New Year’s Resolution to Rule Them All
As we say goodbye to 2016 and welcome the New Year, we create space to reflect and to set goals going forward. The word “resolution” gets thrown around, and many of us resolve to change something about our lives or selves for the better as we make our New Year’s Resolution.
The thing is, a surprisingly small number of us actually see our New Year’s resolution come to fruition. In fact, according to studies, 25% of us have fallen off the bandwagon by just January 8th, and by June, that number has crept up to 54%. Even more shocking is that most estimates say that only 8% of us have actually stuck with or achieved our goals by the end of the year!
It’s obvious that the way we make and execute resolutions needs to change. What if I told you that the only “resolution” you need to make to achieve your goals this year is to deepen your relationship with yoga and meditation? In truth, yoga is a resolution to support all other resolutions. Here’s the plan!
Set Your Intention
Rather than “resolving” to create a steady practice, why not start the year, or better yet, each day where we usually start on our mats- with an intention. This intention can help us stay focused on our goals, and give us something clear to refer back to when we lose focus.
There is a Sanskrit word for this called Sankalpa, which means a will, purpose or determination. You can use your Sankalpa to get to the very root of why you want this resolution to happen, and for a more concrete idea of how it will manifest in your life. This can connect you to our purpose and make your efforts to accomplish them much stronger.
This Sankalpa will help you take an active role in your intention from the get-go. Pick a word or phrase that will create a tone or help you focus on a goal, and let it guide you through your year. It should be simple and specific- something like, “I want to be more present,” or “I want to manifest self-love.” Write it down where you’ll see it. Use it as a mantra in meditation. Repeat it as often as you need a reminder.
Focus on your intention rather than the outcome, and soon you’ll realize that you’ve developed a habit that continues throughout 2017 and beyond your New Year’s resolution.
Create a Solid Foundation
Now that you’ve got a clear intention in mind, think about doing something big like taking a retreat to jump-start your yoga routine and turn it into a habit.
A week-long yoga retreat can give you an impactful, positive experience to associate with your New Year’s resolution or intention. Coming to a peaceful, nourishing place like the Goddess Garden in Costa Rica creates a cache of visceral memories to draw from and keep your motivation strong.
The Goddess Garden will give you the quiet space you need to focus and learn how powerful a yogic lifestyle can be. A week or two of healthy food, getting in touch with nature, spending time at the ocean, and giving attention to inner awareness will make you feel nothing short of amazing!
The visual memory of the space, the sounds, the smells, your feelings from doing something positive and monumental for yourself: all of these cumulate in a deep-rooted feeling for you to recall when you feel your commitment wavering. You will be able to remember how happy, how dedicated, how powerful you felt in that place and time, and give you the drive and momentum to continue your practice when you return home.
Be Clear, and Take Action
After you return from your retreat, keep your Sankalpa in mind and create clear goals around it. “I want to do more yoga,” will be obtainable with a specific commitment such as, “I will do yoga 3 times a week.”
You will set yourself up for success if you take action to fit yoga into your life. Create a consistent time and space at home where you will roll out your mat for asana and meditation, or plan to take the daily 5pm class at your local studio.
It is also helpful to start each day thinking about your Sankalpa, and then commit to something definite you will do today to make that intention happen. Listen to your alarm clock when you set it early to get up for 10 minutes of meditation. Trade 30 minutes of internet time in the evening for a quick bedtime Asana.
Keep reminding yourself of your intention, be clear about how to live out that intention, then do something every day that aligns with it.
Trust the Snowball Effect
Once you have your routine and a dedication to incorporate yoga and meditation regularly, these habits will eventually begin to affect your life off the mat. Even if you start out small with 5 minutes of meditation daily, you are contributing to your goals and creating positive change for yourself.
No matter what you start with, yoga builds awareness for transformation. The more you meditate and get on your mat, the more aware of your body and your thoughts you will become, and therefore be more in control of them. This leads to an ability to pinpoint things you’d like to strengthen or improve within yourself, and create change in those areas.
If you wish to be more present in the way you live your life, if you want clarity to manifest your aspirations, if you want to be more fit, if you want to cultivate calm or the ability to handle stress better….all of these things can follow from a regular yoga practice.
No matter what your New Year’s resolutions involve, a regular yoga practice has the power to transform you and the life you are living. When we make a conscious effort to spend time becoming more aware of our minds and bodies, we also become more aware of our actions off the mat or cushion and begin to make different choices.
Make this year great by dedicating time to bettering yourself and strengthening your practice. Little by little, you will affect change. All you need is a clear intention and to work toward it one day at a time!
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