Smash your New Year’s resolutions the yoga way
Finally it came around again: beginning of a new year with its promise of turning over a new leaf. This is why so many people fall into the habitual New Year’s resolution setting. The truth is, we all strive to keep them but even if we don’t believe in their power it’s sometimes hard to resist the charm behind the idea of starting everything anew.
WHY WE DON’T ACHIEVE OUR GOALS?
Why, if those resolutions are so tempting, do we so often fail to carry them through? A part of it is that they’re so tempting because we only think about what we want but we don’t really consider how to get it. In the exciting time around New Year many dreams come to us but we don’t really think them through and change them into an action plan. Or we start acting but we quickly lose momentum. It is worth really looking into what goals do we set and how do they align with our lives if we repeatedly fail to achieve them.
And how yoga can help us? There are actually a number of ways in which yoga can support lasting and substantial changes in our lives.
DISCOVERY & TRANSFORMATION
It all begins with knowing what it is that you truly want. Very often the problem with our New Year’s goals is not that we are not able to achieve them. It’s just that our heart is not truly in them. We take on goals which everybody else is chasing after, ones we think we should be pursuing, rather than ones we truly desire.
Yoga has a perfect solution to it. It is self- discovery that lies at the very core of yoga practice. It is primarily a tool through which we can explore our minds and our lives. When you are on the mat, focusing only on here and now, you begin to see your mind more clearly. You also begin having different perspective on things that happen off the mat.
Furthermore, yoga is all about acceptance. And numerous studies nowadays show that just letting yourself be, observing and accepting whatever is can be very transformational. It’s what lies behind the phenomenon of mindfulness. Well, yoga is also all about mindfulness, only cultivated through awareness of movement and your own body.
When we accept what is we start seeing more clearly the opportunities that lie ahead of us. We are able to make better choices, informed by truth and not by our assumptions. Thus, as we discover more and more about ourselves, we change and grow in the process. And we are also able to take actions which are aligned with our true desires and ditch the ideas and plans concerning our lives which may not have been ours all along.
So be careful! You never know what you may discover on the path and where it will take you 😉
Another aspect is the psychological wellbeing and improvement in our mental functioning we experience as a result of yoga practice. As a result of physical movement we experience a serotonin boost, which we experience as better mood. It’s actually very powerful and yoga has been even shown to help in fighting depression and anxiety (you can read more about it for example here.
When you step on the mat many times you begin to develop not only your physical strength and flexibility but also the mental one. As you experience that your body can do more and more, your belief in yourself skyrockets. Moreover, exercise itself has the power to make you more self-confident.
Why is it important? Psychological studies show that it is much easier to introduce changes in our lives if we are feeling good about ourselves and we are in a positive mood. When we feel too dissatisfied we may not have enough energy and motivation to actually do something about it. While for some people a healthy dose of discontent may actually be stimulating, we still need a basic sense that we are ok and able to face the challenges that lie ahead of us.
Last but not least, what we do on our yoga mats really has the power of transforming our brains. The relationship between mind and body is really fascinating and those two aspects of our existence are inextricably linked.
Through moving our bodies and making them do things they have never done before, we are transforming the neurochemical patterns in our brains. In this way, increasing the flexibility of the muscles goes hand in hand with increasing the flexibility of our reaction patterns. Thus, it has a power to transform our habits and support creating new ways of responding to the situations we encounter.
When we for example learn not to react to a passing discomfort we may sometimes experience and stay with the sensations we are experiencing we are priming our brains to be able to endure more feeling of unease in our every day and thus be able to persevere with our goals despite the passing discomfort our actions may sometimes cause us. Getting out of our comfort zone is never easy, but it can be made easier with practice, and yoga is an excellent tool for that.
Then we are actually able to do more and go further than was possible for us before. We get beyond fixed patterns of reactions and we are able to choose, rather than be driven by instinctual avoidance of the things which are new or make us uncomfortable in other ways.
Through consistent practice, we may also get rid of the things that were holding us back and really get unstuck. As mentioned above, yoga has the power to help fight depression or anxiety and thus remove obstacles on our way to the life we want.
Whether you’re looking for the right direction, more stamina and self-confidence to carry your plans through, or need to reprogram old patterns which sabotaged your efforts so far – yoga is the way to go!
It will help you get in touch with your true desires, increase your psychological wellbeing, give you resources to cope with change, and even change the neurochemical patterns of your nervous system in ways which can support real transformation.
And what are your views? Share in the comments your transformational experiences with yoga, or about any issues you are currently struggling with and could do with a little help changing. I will address some of more specific topics on this blog in the future.
p.s. If you want to try the power of yoga for yourself – I invite you to practice with me! First classes this year start on 9th January, and now you can get 50% off your first class! For information about how I teach, timetable and booking check here.