Happy New Year! Christmas and New Year is usually a time of reflection for me, I think this is because I usually have some time off work, away from my usual routine. This gives me a bit of perspective on the way things are going and seems like a good time for me to set some goals for my future. I think goals are important because if we don’t decide on our own direction, we put ourselves at the mercy of other people’s whims. I wonder how goals fit in with a commitment to being here and now, which I also have. I think that whilst we can have a version of a future which we will do anything we can to get to, all we ever really have is here and now. It’s important to not only enjoy the journey but realise that we build the future in the here and now, in many baby steps and as we do this we interact with a world which is beyond our control and ever changing. So we may need to adapt our plan but it is still worth planning, in fact if you didn’t plan at all you wouldn’t even get out of bed.
One of my main goals this year is to be tidier. In yoga philosophy cleanliness is one the Niyamas (ethical guidlines concerning ourselves). In truth this has been a goal of mine in the past and I have learnt a lot in my previous attempts which will surely help me to make the necessary changes. I also have a wealth of experience of which to draw on. I know that I have made other changes in the past and I know that this is something which is mostly within my own control. It is easy for me to write blog posts about maintaining a daily yoga practice because I have been practicing yoga for years and I love it, tidying and me have had a different relationship in the past and it is possible for me to draw on what I learn from yoga and apply it to my life, sometimes in surprising ways.
I posted this picture of my practice on Christmas day. I am doing a deep backbend which is part of the Intermediate Series of Ashtanga Yoga. It is called Kapotasana and although I may look comfortable enough in this pose, it has been a really difficult pose for me to do. Obviously it requires a great deal of flexibility, this has taken many years of daily practice for me to open my back up. I also find it emotionally and mentally challenging, I think there is something about having my chest that open, it has been very healing and empowering for me. Recently I noticed that I would start to dread this pose about 5 poses before I got to it. With this sense of dread I also had a mental dialogue that went something like this “you will never be able to do it today, your body’s too tight/tired/strong. Why are you even trying, blah, blah, blah! ” Once I noticed my little story, I think noticing is often the first step in change, I started to notice the feeling of dread for what it was, a feeling at the pit of my stomach that I have habitually created. Sometimes I would even laugh at it. Sometimes I could do the pose, sometimes I couldn’t, ultimately it doesn’t matter, it’s a yoga pose. Day by day, this sense of dread started to lose it’s power, as it was no longer being fed by my thoughts.
Part of my plan in order to be tidier is to wash up immediately after eating. I was doing this a few days ago and I felt this amazing sense of dread at the pit of my stomach. When I noticed, I laughed and told my partner about it. Hello dread, I know you, I thought. No wonder I have struggled to make this change in the past, there is so much emotion attached to it, to deal with it requires dealing with not only a lifetime of habits but also all the emotional negative feelings associated with not doing this. Thanks to yoga, I am able to notice them and let them go. They don’t really relate to here and now, where I am washing up – it’s not dangerous, there is nothing to dread. When you make goals for your future, look back at your past and see how you have changed other things, then notice the present moment again and take it one step at a time.
Do you have goals yet? What can you do right now to make them more real? How has yoga helped you?