The practice is all about turning your good intentions into action. Sound like what you need this year?
The yoga community is welcoming and can help support you in achieving your goals.
IF YOU’VE ALREADY dropped the ball on your New Year’s resolutions, or if you’re at the point where the mere idea of resolutions makes you cringe, it’s time try a new approach. Yoga is the practice of putting your intentions into action. With yoga, you set goals for yourself and take logical steps toward reaching them. Every time you step on your mat, each pose and each breath is a renewed commitment to yourself and your vision. Set the tone for the New Year: Make a commitment to yourself, stick with your goals, and make it the best year yet with the support of yoga.
The first step in yoga is to set an intention. To live a fulfilling life, you have to work toward something you truly care about. Focus on how you’d like your vision to feel. Aim high – why not? Be as specific as possible so you can take logical steps toward achieving your vision. For example, “By June 1, I will be the yoga trainer for the Philadelphia Eagles.” This way you have clear direction for your goals and can move forward with clarity.
There's a misconception that the practice of yoga is not concerned with goals or aspirations. Yoga is a practice, not a thinking session. While setting a clear intention is important, it’s only part of it. You have to put your plan into action. How you move forward to achieve your goals makes all the difference in living a meaningful life. That’s one of the main intentions of yoga: to love your life and flourish in it.
Practicing the physical postures in yoga is humbling. There are very few people who come to yoga capable of doing more than half of the poses, and fewer who can achieve them with healthy alignment. Everyone comes to their mats with their own strengths and weaknesses. When you practice balancing poses, inversions and arm balances, you must take a leap of faith to attempt them and be willing to fall out numerous times to succeed. Through time, you train your mind to be relentless without being harmful. This practice builds a strong work ethic and helps to develop a mentality that is paramount in reaching your goals.
The most important quality of a good yoga practice is that it is efficient. You want to be sure that your efforts on your mat are bearing results. This means do more of what works and less of what does not. In yoga, you learn to listen to your intuition. If something does not feel right, or if you are getting stuck, stop and try using a different technique. How many times do we get derailed in our paths to obtain our goals because the method to reaching them is not working? It takes guts to take a step back and re-approach a task from a different perspective. Yoga demands you learn to practice in a way that empowers you and to let go of what does not.
When you are practicing yoga, whether you’re alone or in a group class, it’s a personal experience. From how you stand physically to how you stand individually, your perspective is completely unique to you. Through this more intimate experience, you get to know yourself more completely. With this knowledge also comes a sense of personal responsibility: You know exactly what you need to do to be in a healthy place within your body and mind. This also means that if you don’t align your poses in a way that feels good, you feel responsible for your actions. You develop a strong sense of personal liability that helps you move forward with your goals.
In a society that is always demanding that you do more, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re not good enough or that nothing you do is good enough. In yoga, you take an attitude that supports abundance rather than living your life from a place of scarcity. This idea means that you have everything you need now, and you’re going to need everything you have. This is not to say you’re not striving to be a better person, but that you are worthy.
Many of the physical poses and the variations also lend themselves to building confidence. One example is in the evolution of a handstand. First, you start by achieving a strong “down dog.” Then you progress to attempting variations against the wall, and lastly, you move to balancing in the center of the room. As you commit to your practice, you cross many thresholds and achieve a level of health you never thought was possible. This inspires optimism and a sense of overall confidence.
A little bit of encouragement goes a long way. If you surround yourself with positive, like-minded people, you set yourself up for success. The yoga community is welcoming. After some time, you begin to trust your fellow yogis and share your aspirations with them. Before you know it, you have a group of optimistic people who are looking out for you and every bit of support helps.
A common stigma that comes with yoga is that it teaches flightiness. If you are clear on what you want to achieve and who you want to become, you will be more reliable and focused than ever. If you are practicing yoga for any extended period of time, you have to find depth in your practice. You have to work the fundamentals so intricately that they are no longer fundamental.