January 2, 2017

How to keep your New Year’s Resolution to Practice

by Lisa Ash Drackert

Every New Year boasts an enticing elevated oomph of enthusiasm, commitment and zealous goal setting to “Practice Yoga.” We promise ourselves (and our yoga teacher) to wake up early and catch the 6 am classes on days we know we have meetings after work, we set our alarm to get up for the 5:30 am Mysore Practice on Fridays we have Happy Hour planned with our co-workers, and we set overly enthusiastic goals of practicing every single day of the week and, oh yes, also on Saturdays and Sundays.

It’s a trap we all fall into. And we all end up exhausted, a little bit injured, and whole lot discouraged. If this sounds familiar (which it will, because you are an Ashtanga Yogi and therefore a dedicated, determined, disciplined Type-A person) here are three suggestions for setting and keeping your New Year’s Resolution to Practice.

  1. Dedicate your practice to someone who needs it.

At the end of each Ashtanga Yoga practice, we chant the closing prayer.  dedication-box-2The last sentence of this mantra can be translated: “May all sentient beings be happy and free from suffering.” In Sanskrit, we say: “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.”  This seals the energetic benefits of the practice and aligns the mind with the ultimate goal of the practice: to elevate the consciousness of all beings.

At the beginning of every class, dedicate your practice as a prayer of healing for someone in your life who needs healing
. You could dedicate your practice to a friend who is recovering from cancer, a cousin who is working through a divorce, a co-worker whose children are causing stress, or your partner who is experiencing anxiety and dissatisfaction at work. This simple act will change your motivation entirely, making it possible to practice daily.  At Maya Yoga, we have a box set up next to the altar for you to write your dedication. During the most challenging poses, remember why you are practicing, send healing thoughts to your chosen person.

(Listen to the Closing Prayer here.)

  1. Schedule 5 classes a week into your calendar.

Protect these class times like you would a doctor’s appointment or a meeting with your boss.  Seeing your schedule blocked off for yoga solidifies your commitment. One of these classes can be a make-up class: if something unexpected arises during the week, you already have a class time chosen on another day to ‘make up’ for it.  This prevents anxiety over re-arranging your schedule last minute to fit in one more class.  4 to 5 classes a week is an appropriate goal.  Traditionally in the Ashtanga Yoga world, Saturdays are reserved for rest. However, this doesn’t always fit our daily schedule.  Practice a few times on the weekend– invite your family and friends to join you for class and brunch– if you know your Monday-Friday are really packed.  Maya Yoga has a full weekend class schedule of possibilities.   

3. Recover mindfully.

Listening to your body may be the most important lesson you can learn as a yogi. Ashtanga yoga is not a one-year practice. It is a life-long practice.  If you feel pain or oncoming injury, do not practice the full series just to ‘meet your goal.’  Take a day off from asana: your 1 hour at home practice can consist of gentle stretching, pranayama and seated meditation. Or, instead, attend a Beginner’s Class at Maya Yoga and give yourself permission to modify poses. Take a warm bath with Epsom salts to alleviate soreness, drink lemon water to re-alkalize your body, and be thankful for what you can do!  Even if all you do is step on to your yoga mat and resonate one chant of “Om” then you are still realigning your consciousness with universal healing and still practicing your Yoga.

With these tips, we hope you can improve your commitment to your New Year’s Resolution to Practice and feel successful in meeting your goals. Happy New Year!

Lisa Ash Drackert, M. Ed, RYT-500 is a yoga teacher and writer based in Kansas City, Missouri. She invites you to find hope, health, and happiness through yoga and meditation. Read more at: lisaashyoga.com