New Year’s Resolutions, Yoga-Style

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It’s the same every year. As January 1st approaches, there’s talk everywhere of New Year’s resolutions, of making changes in our lives. Many view it as a fresh start for habits related to fitness, diet, relationships, money, you name it.

But despite our eagerness to make resolutions, 25 per cent of the goals we set aren’t kept past the first week, and less than 50 per cent survive beyond six months.

How can we get our resolutions to stick? Perhaps we simply need to re-frame the way we think about them.

Why not try starting the new year with resolutions, yoga-style? When you look at your list this year, keep these three tenets of yoga in mind and you’ll be more likely to make it through to the next year with your resolutions intact.

Intentions
In yoga, an intention means choosing a behavior or action and applying it to our daily living. Intentions are not attached to an outcome, so they keep us very much in the present. Instead of a resolution being a goal to achieve, intentions help make our resolutions immediate and part of every choice or action we take.

Instead of a resolution like “I will lose 20 pounds,” create a resolution intention like “I want to eat more healthy foods.” With a resolution to lose weight, we are focusing on an outcome in the future that is something other than our present circumstance. If we resolve to “eat healthy,” the resolution grounds us in our choices today. Whenever we go to put something in our mouth, we can answer a simple question: is this going to support my intention of eating well or is it going to undermine it?

Awareness

The word yoga itself means union, and the idea of acting as one unit in mind, body and spirit can go a long way to supporting a new year’s resolution. Before making your resolution, you must be certain that your goal is consistent with what your mind, body and spirit really want.

If your resolution is “I want to run a marathon” because your mind likes the idea of running a marathon and you think it will be good for your spirit, you won’t get very far if your body hates running. Your resolution would likely not hold up when the long runs get longer. If your resolution is to attend a Zumba class at least two times a week and your mind, spirit and every ounce of your body gets excited by the notion of it, your resolution will fare much better.

Be aware of your life circumstances and be honest with yourself about whether this is a resolution that you truly desire. If the mind, body and spirit are all on board, you are much more likely to stay committed.

Karma Yoga

Karma yoga is taking action or engaging in a behavior that helps others without expecting something in return. Often resolutions are made with the hope that we will improve our own lives, or that we will benefit in some way. But if we make resolutions that have the health or well-being of others in mind, our behavior can have a far greater impact.

We are also far more likely to keep resolutions that involve others. Regardless of whether it comes from a sense of responsibility or a commitment to an initiative that is outside of our typical daily life, there is no doubt that helping others also improves the quality of our own lives.

As we head into 2011, may your resolutions be strong and lasting!

Annabel Fitzsimmons is a freelance writer, runner, yoga and Pilates teacher, and mother of two young children. Her online yoga, Pilates and meditation studio is at: http://www.annabelfitzsimmons.ca/

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