New Year’s resolutions aren’t always my thing. I prefer embracing new opportunities when the time feels right, over big goal-setting strategies that often fail leaving an unwelcome sense of guilt and powerlessness. So, this post won’t be about how to transform your life through dramatic new yoga goal-setting in 2024.
Rather I prefer gently working towards establishing habits, behaviours and practices that are sustainable in the long run. The key is to be ‘real’. While sometimes a fantasy escape is necessary to get us going, often a re-framing of what we can realistically (and yes, sustainably) achieve through small but significant changes, brings a greater sense of accomplishment and long-term benefits.
When I set my mind on something new, I like to start by asking myself whether this new thing will work for me in my actual life or just in my fantasy life? You know, that amazing, imaginary place where I’m never tired, I always feel great, I have an unlimited amount of time, read worthy books, make home cooked meals every day, oh, and get to the gym five times a week. We all live such a life in our mind, right?! Ha ha ; )
When it comes to yoga, we may be tempted to stretch ourselves (physically and metaphorically) to meet the expectations of that highflyer inner voice, you know, the one telling you to levitate! All too often when we imagine something based on our fantasy life, failure is hiding around the corner. On the other hand, when we build a practice that works in our real life we acquire an incredible tool to support us over the years.
A real practice is not about checking off boxes but making us feel better, empowered and healthy. Our needs, commitment and obligations change over time, we all have superhero days and duvet days. So, a real practice is one flexible enough to meet the demands of our changing schedules, our changing moods, and sometimes even our changing bodies. Ultimately, a sustainable yoga practice should be about listening, providing an opportunity to be curious, to grow stronger and more resilient physically and mentally. It is a place to practice kindness, compassion, love, and showing up for us, not anyone else.
One way yoga could encourage slow but steady transformation is by helping to shift patterns that make us unhappy. With time your developing practice will shape your body and your mind. To understand whether a yoga routine (or any other new habit we set our mind to) will really work for us, we could ask ourselves if its really best for us or if its best left to our fantasy.
As we enter the new year I, for one, will try not to be carried away by my fantasies. I invite you to join me instead in setting our mind and our intentions on becoming the joyful and free versions of ourselves we strive to be.