7 New Year's intentions for yogis
It’s that time when we all recover from our holiday cookie hangovers and decide to conquer that goal, once and for all.
Generally, I’m not big on New Year's resolutions. I don’t like to be “pressured” into making lofty goals and as someone with a history of addiction, these big goals can actually be dangerous. (More on why I don’t make New Year's resolutions here.) That being said, there is something beautiful about the New Year. It’s a fresh slate — a year full of potential. And a year of yoga practice.
This year, I’m setting intentions for my practice. The word intention feels better to me than resolution. Resolution feels like a punishment; Intention feels purposeful and is more about the journey than the destination.
Here are some ideas for intentions for your 2016 yoga practice, and perhaps beyond.
1. Start, or deepen, your at-home practice
I love taking classes at studios, but I’ve grown to really cherish my at-home practice. It’s so personal and gives you an opportunity to take something you learned inside the studio home to focus on — whether that’s handstand or savasana.
2. Read the Yoga Sutras
Patanjali compiled what is considered to be the foundation for yoga philosophy in 400 CE. I’ve studied them but must confess that I’ve never read them in their entirety. This is probably the biggest yoga philosophy must-read. It’s like the bible of yoga.
3. Journal your practice
Writing helps me process what’s going on inside. I find that journaling after each yoga/meditation practice helps me evolve more.
4. Create a personal mantra
Mantras are powerful. I totally believe that we have the power to manifest our desires. So start manifesting! Give it some careful thought and write a mantra that is powerful to you. Here are some ideas for inspiration.
5. Prioritize your meditation practice
In America, we quickly embraced the physical practice of yoga but have been slower to catch onto mindfulness. But I see a shift starting as more people experience the life-changing benefits of meditation. Sometimes it’s easier to muster the motivation to make time for our mat. But maybe this year you should focus more on making time for your meditation.
6. Look inward, not at the mirror or your neighbor
Even in the safe space of a yoga studio, we can become distracted. I see my students checking themselves out in the mirror and eyeing their neighbor. I’m guilty of this sometimes, too. Strive to take your practice inward to focus on how you feel rather than how you or your neighbor look.
Honor your body. You probably hear your yoga teacher tell you these words, or something similar. But how often do you actually take child’s pose when your tired? How often do you perform a sloppy vinyasa because you’re too proud to skip it? Set an intention to listen to and honor your body—especially when it needs rest.
These intentions are not SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused and Time-bound) goals. And that’s on purpose. They are meant to help you elevate your yoga practice, which is about the journey, not the destination. As Ashtanga guru Pattabhi Jois so famously said, “Practice and all is coming."