Starting the New Year the Yogi Way
A certainly… different year, with all the challenges and opportunities it has brought in our lives, is coming to an end. And a New Year with the promise of a new beginning is approaching.
Let’s have a look at how we can get ready for this fresh start and welcome the upcoming New Year as true yogis!
Set Your Sankalpa
Most of us make and break New Year’s resolutions – same story every year. Have you ever wondered why this happens?
Take a moment to think of some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. They are all like “lose weight” or “quit smoking” or “exercise more”. And what all these have in common is that they are based on reinforcing an existing negative pattern or habit. They feel like saying to yourself “you are too fat” or “you are unhealthy”. They focus on you not being good enough.
The yogic tradition, on the other hand, introduces us to a different version of the New Year’s resolution; sankalpa. The Sanskrit word’s root is in san meaning “connection to the highest truth” and kalpa meaning “vow”. So sankalpa refers to our commitment to connect with our true nature.
You are going to find out that you are actually much stronger than you think – and not just physically.
Simply put, sankalpa is our intention, coming from the heart. It encourages us to get past the idea of some illusionary version of ourselves and focuses on self-loving kindness, starting from the acceptance that perfection lies within us. It is meant to guide our choices and help us evolve while honoring the meaning of our life.
A sankalpa is a positive declaration – usually very simple and short. Imagine it in an affirmative sentence, as if you were talking about something that is already a reality, such as “love is my true identity,” rather than “I want love in my life”. You can easily understand how powerful the first is compared to the second one, can’t you?
Now, how can you find out what your sankalpa for the upcoming New Year should be?
Well, you need to remember that the sankalpa comes from the heart, and not the mind. It is when the mind quiets down that it finally appears. Probably the best way to discover it is during meditation, or, even better, yoga nidra. So don’t overthink it, let your mind relax and be patient, as it might take some time.
Try the 108 Surya Namaskar Practice
The name Surya Namaskar is from the Sanskrit Sūrya, which means sun – the source of all life in the yogic tradition, and Namaskāra, which means greeting or salute. And Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation is probably the most common asana sequence with plenty of variations, incorporated in almost every yoga practice. It is a practice during which we salute the Sun and its vital energy, and get in touch with our inner sun, our inner power.
Sun Salutations are most typically used in the beginning of a yoga class in 2 or 3 repetitions as a warm-up for the entire body. However, in some cases the number of repetitions advances, reaching up to 108 of them. And 108 is not just a random number.
In astronomy, the Sun’s diameter is about 108 times that of the Earth, and the average distance between the Earth and the Sun or the Moon is 108 times the sun’s and the moon’s diameter respectively. In Ayurveda, there are 108 sacred points in the human body, while in numerology 108 equals 9, which represents universal love and enlightenment.
In the yogic tradition, the number 108 is considered to be sacred, appearing in ancient texts such as the Upanishads. The beads in mala necklaces that are used to count when silently repeating a mantra during meditation are also 108. Repeating a mantra 108 times is believed to help one connect with the vibrations of the universe.
108 Sun Salutations are traditionally practiced during significant events symbolizing new beginnings and fresh starts, such as a birth in the family, winter and summer solstice and the New Year’s celebration. Why though?
Well, it is believed that the internal fire that builds up during the specific practice is cleansing and purifying.
With the 108 Surya Namaskar Practice, you won’t only get to heat up your body and activate your energy, but you’ll also have the chance to experience a very powerful moving meditation. You will most likely at some point start asking yourself why you signed up for this. You will get to observe your mental resistance. And this is going to be very interesting.
I promise you that once you get past this point and surrender to the flow, you will find a state of ease. You will get to acknowledge the feelings that arise and simply let them go and move on. And this will feel so liberating!
The key in establishing this mindful awareness is in letting go of old ideas and existing thought patterns.
You are going to find out that you are actually much stronger than you think – and not just physically. You will get to discover your inner drive. And you’re going to realize how powerful your mind is and how easily you can shift your perspective.
Can you think of a better way to welcome the New Year?
Another great way to step into the New Year is by choosing to be more mindful in our everyday lives. In the Buddhist path, this practice is mentioned as Satipaṭṭhāna, and it is considered to be the foundation of mindfulness.
In a few words, satipatthana is about remembering to stay present in every moment, remaining focused in whatever you are doing, being mindfully aware. The key in establishing this mindful awareness is in letting go of old ideas and existing thought patterns. It is in having a beginner’s mind in every experience, and abandoning all the narratives that make up the way you see the world.
And it is a practice that will definitely help you see things more clearly!
Gratitude should be a part of our lives no matter the time of year. The truth is, however, that most of us tend to forget this, as we focus on our difficulties – especially during this undoubtedly challenging period we are all going through.
But this time of the year gives us the perfect opportunity to pause and reflect on all the important things we’ve got in our lives. And all the things we’ve earned and learned during the past months.
It is believed that embracing gratitude can only attract more good things into our lives. I don’t know about this, but I can tell you that it will definitely create a feeling of completeness and bliss. So make a list of all the small or bigger things in your life that you are grateful for. Try to take a moment every day and bring at least one of those things to your attention. You will soon notice how powerful this simple practice is.
Happy New Yoga Year everyone!
Let 2021 fill you with everything you choose!