1). New Year; new asana. If you want to broaden your understanding of yoga, try a new style this year. If you're a dedicated ashtangi, drop into a Restorative, Yin, or Kripalu class. Worship at the sweaty throne of Bikram? Refine your alignment in Iyengar. Love the fast pace of Baptiste or Vinyasa? Experiment with longer holds in Forrest yoga, greater emphasis on philosophy with Jivamukti, or heart-centered intention in Anusara. The purpose of practicing yoga is to evoke balance in our lives, thus it's important to inspire balance by including some variety in our practice.
2). Less reality TV; more reality. Look, I don't want to be a downer, but too much TV over-stimulates your brain (especially before bed), fattens your ass, saps your creativity, and erodes the personal, one-on-one relationships with real people that matter in your life. This year, watch the shows that inspire and entertain you, but cool it with the incessant background noise, relentless channel surfing, and late-night brain drain.
3). Forgive someone. Speaking of real people . . . They make mistakes. Big ones. Hurtful ones. Unforgivable ones. Forgive them anyway. Besides being the compassionate thing to do, it's crucial to your health. The anger we feel toward others, if allowed to fester, pollutes our thoughts, and as the Buddha once explained, "All that we are is a result of what we have thought."
4). Make this your mantra: Eat whole foods. You can eat at the grocery chain Whole Foods too, if you like, but that's not what I mean here. Whole foods are characterized by being as close to their natural, original states as possible. Skip the latest diets, swearing off carbs, and counting calories. Eat real food; think about where it came from; know how it got to your plate. Savor each bite. Eating mindfully will change your life and your body. Promise.
5). Get thee to Goodwill. Most of us have too much stuff. Get rid of what you don't need; give it to someone who does. It's a wonderful way to create space, physically and psychologically.
6). Turn your world upside down. If you only do one yoga pose all year, make it an inversion. If you're familiar with uttanasa, viparita karani, shoulder stand, and downward dog (your head is below your heart in all of these poses, directing fresh blood to your brain), perhaps set an intention to learn more advanced poses such as headstand, forearm stand, or handstand. These potent postures provide immediate shifts in perspective and are among the most effective asanas you can perform.
7). Get acquainted with karma. Making resolutions to be a better person in the coming year are nice, but they don't mean squat until you take action. The word karma actually translates to mean "action." To that end, good actions beget good actions and negative ones do the opposite. If this is the year you plan to take action in your community, help others in need, or volunteer for a cause in which you believe, quit talking about it. Find your focus, and take action.
8). Skip town. Taking a mental holiday need not be expensive or time-consuming, but it's important to get a change of scenery on occasion. Maybe you spend a weekend in the mountains, drive to the beach for a day, or simply take a walk in a different part of town. Experiencing new places and people keeps us young.
9). Write it down. No matter what your goals are, you are more likely to achieve them if you write them down. Trying to lose weight? Keep a food diary. Need to get your personal finances in order? Write down everything on which you spend money over the course of a month, then strategize where you can make improvements. Hoping to cultivate a better relationship with someone special? Send them a hand-written, heartfelt note. Writing things down allows us to see the truth in black and white, and that is the most powerful step toward change.
10). Meditate. It always helps. It never hurts. It costs nothing. It improves everything.
Happy New Year!