Happy New Year to you all! I’ve taken a great few days off to enjoy Christmas and New Year with my family in Italy, and I’m now back in London, ready as ever to start afresh!
How did you spend your holidays? Did you take time to reflect on the year just past, and making resolutions? The thing is, most of us do, and it’s so easy to be enthusiastic about new plans when enjoying that special time off. But then in January life gets back to being busy and hard, and we soon realise we were being optimistic, but unrealistic.
So am I here to be harsh and tell you either you try harder and stick to all your resolutions, or you fail? No! I’m here to say that there are some great, small, yoga-inspired things you can start incorporating into your daily life, that will make you feel more aware, centred, grounded – and therefore will help you accomplish anything you put your mind to.
Instead of valuing your success by how many times a week you stick to your gym resolution, how about practicing small habits that will give you more energy and awareness, and therefore make you naturally feel like looking after yourself more regularly? Not as a chore, but because you now feel that connection with your body and health.
This is what Yoga is for, and here are 5 yoga-inspired things you can start doing to build a great life for yourself this year!
Something we all do all the time, of course! But do you ever stop to breathe with awareness and intent? If you think about it, breathing is at the centre of our body and our mind.
Our breath is calm when our body is calm, and agitated when our body is agitated. When we’re exhausted or annoyed we exhale heavily, and when surprised or shocked we inhale sharply. As we all know, breathing deeply calms the nerves and helps with pain.
So my suggestion is: don’t wait to be nervous to remember to bring awareness to your breath. Do it every day. 5 minutes when you wake up and before going to sleep. Or after your lunch break, before resuming work. Or while you’re on your commute. Use a few brief moments to concentrate on your breath and bring calmness to your body.
Of course, Yoga is built around breath, and there are very specific techniques for conscious breathing, called Pranayama. I will be explaining more about those soon in this blog or with YouTube videos – but for now remember that breathing with intent a few times a day is already a wonderful start.
Just like conscious breathing, meditation is something you can easily slot into your daily routine, just 10 minutes per day. And again, it doesn’t have to be advanced – perfection comes with practice. What’s important for now is that you get into the habit: find a moment and a time for yourself, where you leave the to-do list behind, and you learn to simply concentrate on the here and the now.
Meditation has proved to have direct physical benefits, plus those 10 minutes will give you clarity of mind and better concentration, which will help to tackle your tasks with less effort, enabling you to achieve more.
3. Live with intention
When you practice yoga, you concentrate on each pose, and move with intention. You concentrate on achieving the best movement you can, and you do it with purpose. The great thing about yoga is that it can be a lesson and a metaphore for life: you can apply the same principle to everything you do. Perfect your action, and act with purpose.
Ask yourself why you are doing something – you’ll figure out to how later, if you find it’s what you want. Ask yourself whether you’re making choices that have a meaning for you, and that align with your core values of how you want to live your life.
Too philosophical? No. This approach is not meant to only be explored when you want to find out the deeper meaning of life. Try applying the same principle to the small things you do every day: how you spend your free time, why you eat the things you eat, why you buy the things you buy, and yes, why you chose to skip that gym session 🙂
4. Invest in friendship
An important aspect of life you want to live with full consciousness and intention is the friends you surround yourself with. They’re the ones who’ll share the happy times with you, and help you and support you when in need. Also, they’re the ones you can share the small, everyday things with! Like helping each other find the motivation to go through with those diet, exercise and productivity resolutions you made.
Why not find a friend who wants to practice yoga with you? I’ve got just the idea for you. I have just launched a new, women-only, naked Yin yoga short course – 4 classes to practice with the purpose of rekindling our relationship with the four elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air (find all the info here). And you know what? If you bring a friend, you both get 25% off the full price! The ideal way to share with a friend and set yourself on the right path for the new year.
5. Connect with your body
We only have one, and we need to take care of it. Listen to it, and it will be your best friend. Listen to it through your breath, when you walk, when you rest, when you eat, and of course when your practice yoga. Yoga will teach you how to listen to it – virtuous circle!
Another wonderful way to listen to your body is to do that without any constrictions – look at it naked, discover what it feels like. Do it at home first, but then again why not take it to the next level and do it while you practice yoga. A common new year’s resolution is to face your fears and try something you’ve never done before: how about going to your first Naked Yoga class?