For so many, a New Year is overwhelming. The spectre of possibility and the pressure for reinvention bombard us everywhere we look. Starting anew can be daunting if we’ve tried it before and have disappointed ourselves with unrealistic, unfair expectations of turning into some new, improved “super-version” of ourselves. “Lose ten pounds! No more chocolate! Exercise ten times a week!” We create goals, habits and restrictions that are too difficult, often abandoned before the spring thaw. This is often driven by our own feelings of self-judgement or disapproval, inadequacy and unworthiness. What purpose does that serve? These punitive inner voices don’t help us along on our path of evolution and growth; if anything they are counterproductive, often keeping us in a position of “staying in our own way”.
We are each given a Divine assignment and our job as sentient beings is to find it, accept it and live it. When we do, we can view every experience– however small or seemingly unimportant as part of the Plan; we can realize that mistakes and failures create Opportunities; we can know our challenges are part of the Lesson.
Each time we step onto our yoga mat, we begin afresh, and the practice renews us. The Yogic system is a complete tool kit to assist us with our continuing evolution and involution. Through Pranayama we breathe into Presence; through meditation we make space in the mind to create clarity; through asana we purify and refine the physical sheath releasing energetic densities and fears and so that we might freely open our heart. The scriptures help us understand and put into context the struggles every human faces; teach us to see all the qualities of human frailty without judgement; show us that with practice, discipline and commitment we can rise toward the Divinity from which we have descended.
With such a profound support system, how can we fail? I’ve seen in my own practice that everything t happening to us on our mat is a microcosm of what happens to us once we step off of it. If we are dedicated to our practice for it’s own sake–with humility, patience and consistency and without attachment–we progress. One day when we least expect it, where each time before we’ve wobbled and fallen out of a particular pose, suddenly our standing foot becomes more stable and grounded…we feel lift in the inner seams of our legs, our shoulders and heart are open..and miraculously we experience flight and dance while firmly rooted in the earth. The product of this effort is Joy, and according to Deepak Chopra, it is our birthright. So this month we will focus on Joy, and connecting to it through our practice. Isn’t that where every New Year should start?