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Yoga New Year

Jan 24th, 2011
Yoga Workout

New Years Resolutions for the New and Practiced Yogi

UntitledJanuary 1st has come and gone, and for many people that means New Year's resolutions are in full force. The beginning of a new year gives people the opportunity to start fresh, turn a new leaf, and begin to fulfill their personal goals without feeling guilty about their past performance. The most common New Year's resolution set by people in 2011 has something to do with getting in shape and creating a new, healthy lifestyle*. So how does yoga fit into this whole picture? The answer: by improvement of overall health and longevity.


There are two aspects of including yoga in your new years resolutions. The first is for people who are new to yoga and are inspired to make it a part of their life. For those of you who fit in to this category, I want to say, “congratulations!” You are currently on the way to cultivating a deeper awareness of body, mind, and spirit that will change and improve your life in ways you will have never imagined.


If you are just beginning your journey into the yoga world, you may feel a bit overwhelmed at where to start on this path. Here are a few suggestions for bringing yoga into your life:


1) Attend a yoga class: Start by going to one or two yoga classes a week. Try a few classes out, and find which class style/teachers resonate with you. Yoga should be physically strenuous to some degree, but it should also be enjoyable and relaxing. If you feel discouraged and begin to compare yourself to others in the class, stop! Keep taking your classes and be positive, it will get easier!

2) Set an Intention: At the beginning of each class (or even every day) set an intention. This may be something on the mat such as, “I want bring energy into all areas of my body in every pose” or off the mat like, “I want to stop judging myself and others.” Setting these intentions helps to set small goals and create daily self-improvement.

3) Relax: Give yourself permission to set aside time every day for yourself. Do something you enjoy, relax, read; whatever it is, make sure its something you want to do, not something you need to do. This will help encourage a relief of stress, the leading cause of 90% of health problems in the U.S.** Alleviating stress will help you cultivate a happier, healthier life and body.

4) Read: Are you curious about new and unfamiliar things your yoga teacher may talk about in class? Want to learn more about breathing or another limb of yoga? Follow your curiosity and read a book or article on a topic you are interested in. You can also subscribe to various yoga magazines that will provide the topics for you while bringing you more knowledge and understanding.


The second aspect of a yogic new years resolution is for those who have been practicing yoga for a while. This may mean you have been practicing asana (physical yoga postures) for 6 months, or practicing multiple limbs of yoga (asana, pranayama, meditation, etc.) for years. Want to grow deeper in your practice? Here are a few helpful suggestions for the practicing yogi:

1) Challenge yourself: It is easy to develop a routine that becomes easy and familiar. This is great because it means you have a steady, unfaltering practice; however, this can make your life stagnant and boring. Challenge yourself in any way possible. This may mean trying a new asana (posture) that you have never tried before, going to level 2 classes instead of level 1, bringing more awareness to the breath, or beginning meditation. Whatever it is, make sure it is new and interesting, and this will re-ignite the spark and agni (fire) in your yoga practice.

2) Do a cleanse: A common mantra or saying is that “the body is our temple.” This is a concept that yogis firmly embrace in body and mind within our yoga practice. We cannot forget, however, the importance of our diet and what we put into our body, therefore affecting our life, health, and mental state. I would suggest doing a cleanse twice a year to reset your body and give your digestion a break. There are tons of cleanses out there, just make sure you aren't drinking only water or starving yourself of necessary nutrition. Juice cleanses are great. One amazing example that I have tried can be found at, slightly pricey, but may give you an idea of what to shoot for.

3) Karma Yoga: We spend so much of our time dedicating our practice to ourselves in order to improve our lives, which is great! Yet one thing to think about after we have a steady yoga practice is how we may bring light and joy to others. Karma yoga, or selfless service, is a great way to do good for others in need. This could be volunteering at a shelter, doing community service, or even helping out around your local yoga studio. Ultimately, doing good for others does good for ourselves.

4) Yamas and Niyamas: The first two limbs in Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga are Yamas (restraints) and Niyamas (observances). I suggest choosing one Yama or Niyama a month to focus on. For instance, focus on the Yama “ahimsa” or “non-violence” by restraining violent thoughts toward yourself and others.


These helpful tips will help you make yoga a part of your life whether you are brand new or have been practicing for years. Only you have the power to change your life for the better, so start now and embark down a path that leads to health, happiness, and mental awareness.

* The #1 New Year's resolution for 2011 is to “Set an attainable athletic goal, like running a 5 or 10k” according to and “Lose Weight” according to

**According to the American Institute for Stress, “It has been estimated that 75 – 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems.”

Heidi Schubert, RYT-200 received her yoga teaching certification in ubud, Bali. She teaches ashtanga vinyasa and vinyasa flow classes in San Diego, ca. Learn more about heidi at Heidi Schubert is a contributor.