With 2016 just around the corner, we’re probably all starting to look back on 2015 (it seems like a blur, right? Where did the year go?) and look at how we could have done things differently or what we’d like to change for the year ahead.
The New Year really is a brilliant turning point, a transition time in which everything is there to support us to make lasting positive changes in our lives that will make us happier, healthier and take us further in the direction of our dreams. Here are my top 5 (yogic!) tips to celebrate the New Year and make 2016 the year that you want it to be.
1. Flow Your Way Into the Year
There can be no better way to start the New Year than on your yoga mat. If you don’t have the time or energy for a full practice, just a few simple rounds of Sun Salutations will help to shift the perspective for your whole year ahead.
With each breath welcome in new beginnings, new opportunities, and the New Year. Feel yourself grounded into the earth, connected into the energy of the year ahead, and most of all in-tune with the direction in which you want to go. This is also an amazing way to kick start your promise of more yoga in the New Year (I know that’s a resolution that you made)!
A simple yoga practice on New Year’s Day will help you to feel more aware, connected, and in-tune with not only yourself, but also the changing rhythm of the New Year ahead. Dedicate your practice to all the wonderful things that the year ahead holds for you and honor this transitional gateway into new beginnings.
2. Do More of What Makes You Feel Good
January 1st usually sees us setting resolutions and steeling our wills against what we will/won’t and should/n’t be doing. “I won’t eat sugar anymore,” “I will get to X yoga classes a week,” “I won’t drink anymore,” “I will change my life,” — you get the idea.
Next year, rather than making a load of rules about what you should and shouldn’t, will and won’t, how about just making the one — to do more of what makes you feel good.
Trust me, as you begin to do more of what makes you feel good, you will naturally start to crave more of it. For example, rather than deciding not to eat sugar, bread, chocolate, etc., start instead to eat lots more fresh fruit and vegetables. Notice how certain foods make you feel and eat more of the ones that make you feel good.
The more you feed your body these delicious natural foods, the more your body will crave them and the less you will want to eat all those foods that don’t nourish you. Same goes for yoga and any form of exercise — rather than make promises that you’ll get to a class three times a week, instead decide that you’ll do just 15/20 minutes of self-practice each day, or find a teacher that really inspires you and make just that one class your regularity.
Once you find something that you really enjoy doing and that feels good to your body, you’ll never have to push yourself to go to a class or to exercise again. Instead, making it to that class or getting on your mat each morning will become a pleasure and something you actually enjoy doing — which in turn will make you want to do more of it!
3. Start a Self Practice
Following on from the point above, I’m here to tell you that starting a self-practice will change your life for the better in so many ways. Even if you just get on your mat for 15 minutes a day, you will notice a big difference.
Daily yoga will help not only help you physically by increasing flexibility and building muscle strength, but also reduce stress levels and help you to quiet the mind, bringing peace of mind, clarity, and an ability to manage your daily stresses.
The main question I get asked about a self-practice is, “how will I know what to do?” and I refer you back to tip number 2 — do what feels good! Energetic Sun Salutations when you feel filled with energy, gentle seated and supine poses for when you feel tired and lacking energy, deep melty Yin for when you need to be calm and go inwards — it’s all there and your body does know what to do!
4. See It, Feel It, Believe It
Science has finally started to agree with what yogis have known for centuries — mind can control matter, a.k.a your thoughts create your reality. Without us knowing, it is quite often our own thoughts and self-limiting beliefs that keep us stuck — “I am poor,” “I can’t do that,” “I don’t deserve to be happy,” “I can’t lose weight.”
Patanjali (the author of the yoga sutras and godfather of modern day yoga) knew all about this when he said “Vitarka Bhadane Pratipaksa Bhavanam” — which basically means that if you are disturbed by negative thoughts, think of the opposite and find the positive.
Find the opposite to the negative thought or belief that holds you back and keeps you stuck and create a mantra around your positive new belief. Say it to yourself and notice how it feels. Then start to say it over and over daily until you begin to see it, feel it, and believe it. Make sure you speak in the present and only focus on the positive so instead of “I am poor” your opposite would be “I am abundantly wealthy”.
Take your mantra to your mat and use your practice to help you to feel the inner strength and wisdom that is always within you to help you towards your new beliefs. Know that you can make the required changes in your life. Believe in yourself; know that you deserve it. Give it a try and see what happens!
5. Take a Lifestyle Detox
It’s usual in January to do the "food and drink" detox but sometimes we need to look a bit further afield too. The New Year really is the perfect time to make positive changes in every area of your life. A lifestyle detox is the time to have an honest look at all areas of your life and see what is or isn’t working.
Do you surround yourself with positive people who support, encourage, and bring out the best in you, or do you find that when you spend time with certain people it brings you down? Do you work crazy hours at a job you don’t really enjoy and not enough time with family and friends? Do you spend too much time staring into your iPhone or iPad screen and miss out on what is actually happening in real life in front of you?
Use the New Year as a time to look at all the areas in your life that are “toxic” and take a detox in these areas, too. Let go of anything that brings you down, holds you back or makes you small. Just a few small changes in all areas of your life will help to make your whole life feel fresh, light, free, and so much more enjoyable!
Bonus tip: Be realistic and go easy on yourself!
Whatever changes you decide to make in the New Year, make sure they are realistic and achievable for you. There is no point in saying that you will do an hour of self-practice a day and get to three classes a week if you simply don’t have that amount of time.
I’m all for having huge dreams and doing what you can to make them come true, but if you set unrealistic expectations of yourself you’ll “fail” on day three and feel even worse about yourself. Make your changes realistic, do small things daily to work towards them, and start to see the amazing differences in all areas of your life.
I hope these tips help, and I’d really love to hear from you if you use them and what difference they make. If you have any more ideas, leave a comment below to help and inspire others to make 2016 the best year yet!