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December 29, 2015

Yoga for the New Year. {Video}

new years

For introverts like me, New Year’s is my jam.

During this time it seems like everybody is interested in the things I’m interested in all of the time—reflection, meditation and contemplation about how we can live better, or at least more easily. For us introverts, these are activities that take place on a daily basis, making New Year’s just another home game.

Yoga asana is also a deeply reflective experience for me, so I often find myself combining my yoga practice with my New Year’s contemplations at the end of each year.

Combining the two together strengthen the experience of both of them, which is perfect if you’re decidedly not an introvert because it makes observation easier. And if you’re a sloppy introvert like me (although I’m often caught in reflection, my reflections are mostly biased, muddy, disorganized and not all that helpful), combining New Year’s and yoga is also useful, because it adds structure and discipline to the reflection, which ultimately makes it more useful.

Did I sell you on a New Year’s yoga practice yet?

If so, skip to the video below and join me in your living room for a New Year’s yoga practice.

If you’re still on the fence, here are some parallels between the rituals of yoga asana and New Years that I like to emphasize in my practice.

The first parallel is intention (yoga) or resolution (New Year’s).

My intentions have narrowed over the years, where several years ago a more youthful version of myself might have wished to always look photoshopped or for some other measurable good fortune, I find myself currently abandoning any wish for externally-defined improvement, finding instead a new intention or resolution: to observe my current moment without interpretation.

When my intention for yoga asana is fastened to presence, it allows me to work at my edge without opinion or desire, and I’m able to see my pose clearly. When I see my circumstances clearly, I always know how to respond, and moving with this intention in my yoga practice helps me approach new territory without fear or injury.

This is also addressed in my New Year’s contemplations, as I have been increasingly unable to set a future-based resolution. This year I have been much more drawn towards resolving the present moment and observing the discomforts and anxieties of each moment as they’re happening, without emotional reaction or ego-driven agenda.

The second parallel between yoga asana and New Year’s is the cycle.

Yoga asana reveals cycle with repetitions and revisions of its structure–most poses are repeated more than once during a single practice, and most sequences are repeated from one practice to another.

This gives us the opportunity to observe ourselves doing “the same thing” over and over again–on good hair days, bad hair days, healthy days, sick days, integrated days, flimsy days, focused days, distracted days, and on and on and on. Repetition anchors us to honesty, particularly self-honesty, as we adjust and align in each new repetition of a pose or sequence. In order to repeat something over and over again, we must find the most sustainable way of doing it, so that when the pose comes around next time, our body will be able to do it again.

I find a great parallel between the repetition of yoga and the cycle of the New Year.

At the New Year, we are deeply plugged into the impermanence of life, and are reminded that each moment can be chosen as we enter it (this is, after all, what New Year’s resolutions are all about)–it doesn’t need to be defined by our job, obligations or relationships. We are able to see the circular nature of life clearly during this time, where in the middle of July life might seem more linear and two-dimensional, extending towards an invisible end point somewhere down the line into oblivion. A cycle reminds us that we are preserved and contained–we will never be abandoned or left alone, traveling down the linear road of time, willing to spend the next 40 years digging our toes into the line as we travel across it, terrified of the finding the edge (where it, and we, stop existing).

Cycles remind us that we always belong exactly as we are. When we are young, we belong. When we are old, we belong. When we are not yet born, we belong. When we are dead, we belong.

Repetition in yoga and the cycle of the New Year allow for some pretty interesting meditations on the mat. But that’s something I’ll let you experience on your own.

Are you ready for your New Year’s practice yet?

Join me for this 30 minute New Year’s practice, from my heart and living room, to yours.

 

 

 

 

Relephant yoga favourites:

 

Making Headstand Possible. {Yoga Video}

Visual Yoga Blog: The Best Back Stretch in the World.

 

 

Author: Brentan Schellenbach

Editor: Renée Picard

Photos: author’s own

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