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Warning, you might get stuck on this page.  YOGA LAGNIAPPE will unglue your stickiest yoga questions in our Sticky Mat section.  You’ll hear from local teachers and students about the challenges they find on and off their yoga mats.  Plus enjoy great articles on all things yoga and wellness related. If you have a question or suggestion for the Sticky Mat contact us.

3 Yogic Ways to Empower Your New Year’s Resolution

By S. Brooke Bailey

You might think that an article on a yogic approach to your New Year’s resolution would be over before it started. After all, haven’t we all heard that yoga teaches non-attachment and letting go? When was the last time your yoga teacher told you to let your desires drive you to accomplish more? That probably hasn’t happened, right?

But what if you looked at your New Year’s resolution from the perspective of your soul’s purpose in the world? Now, is your resolution beginning to sound more yogic?

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1. Choose Your New Year’s Resolution from Your Deepest Empowering Desire

All too often we set a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, make more money, stop drinking so much – you name it, someone has made it their resolution. One of the reasons many people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolution is that it wasn’t what they truly needed to move their life forward toward more happiness and fulfillment. We often choose a New Year’s resolution that seems “right” or “good” to achieve based on external pressures that we may not be aware of.

I’m not suggesting that resolving to make any of the afore mentioned lifestyle changes is bad. Ask yourself: Is this resolution the absolute most important thing that I need to accomplish to be more in line with my soul’s purpose? If you can answer yes to that question, then you’ve got yourself a yogic New Year’s resolution. If the answer is no, then your deepest driving desire could actually move you further away from the destiny you want to fulfill.

Spend more time quieting your mind and connecting with your soul. You will uncover your deepest empowering desire when you spend time in silence. If you are worried about not knowing what that desire is by January 1st, then make it your New Year’s resolution to identify it.

It’s important to uncover your core motivation for bringing change into your life. Without a deeply empowering desire, you will likely lose your willpower and possibly even forget your resolution by the end of January.

If you’re having trouble identifying your deepest empowering desire consider working privately with a yoga teacher or coach. They should be able to direct your attention inward and help you unlock your own intuition. Quieting the chatter of your mind will allow you to feel confident in your soul’s desire.

2. Be Willing to Let Go of Who You’ve Been for Who You Are Meant to Be

Here is where the non-attachment, mentioned previously, comes into practice. You might think of attachment as being attached to someone or something outside of you. While attachment may appear to be outside of you, it originates within you. Attachments define how your ego views itself and what is possible in your life.

Old patterns can be painful to let go of, even when they aren’t moving you forward. Before embarking on your New Year’s resolution you should ask yourself if you are truly ready to make the changes that will be necessary for you to accomplish your intention. Are you truly ready to let go of the past and create a new, more empowering, pattern in your life?

3. Sankalpa + Sadhana: Resolution + Practice

Yogic philosophy sees resolutions not as goals per say, but more as resolutions that you are wholeheartedly committed to achieving. A sankalpa (resolution) is not something that you hope to have come true, it is something that you are willing to take action on and are committed to even if it is difficult.

As we all know, it’s not enough to wish that something will change in our lives. We have to change our patterns and actions in order to create a new result. We have to believe, at least more than 50%, that what we are committed to is possible. From there we set our sankalpa, a resolution that we are committed to achieving in the next 6 to 18 months. Then we work on it every single day!

How do you work on your New Year’s resolution in a yogic way? You do sadhana (practice). Set aside quiet time each day not just to move your body in yoga poses, but to be still and go inward, connecting to your soul. From this daily connection remind yourself of your sankalpa and your resolve to take the actions necessary to fulfill it.

It may seem like too much to ask to commit to a daily practice of anything, much less yoga and meditation. However, if you want to experience significant change in your relationship to yourself and the fulfillment of your New Year’s resolution, you need to take a yogic approach to reaching your sankalpa every single day.

Your soul is here to express something in the world that only you can express. Uncover your unique purpose (sva dharma) and share it with the world. There is nothing more yogic than that.

Happy New Year!

Have Yourself a Mindful Little Holiday

By Nikki Carter

It may be challenging, but it is possible to stay grounded during the holidays.

It may be challenging, but it is possible to stay grounded during the holidays.

About a month ago, I started working a second job and some days I’m out of the house for 13-18 hours straight, which has intensified my struggle with being more mindful. I’ve started to feel like I don’t have time to do anything! Yoga, breathing, gratitude exercises – I am currently working to find how these things fit into my new daily life. As we enter into the holiday season, staying present and balanced is my top priority because I want to be able to enjoy these times even with my new lifestyle changes. While I have always loved the holidays, I realize that many times, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can cause a significant amount of stress. So I got to thinking – what are small ways we can try to infuse our busy lives with happiness and mindfulness? Here are some suggestions that I plan to incorporate over the next couple of months.

Mindful Giving
I am a big believer in saying “yes” to meaningful, challenging things, but sometimes this means we have to recognize when things are adding stress to our lives and how to remedy that. This year, I’m shortening my holiday card list to only close family and friends. In past years, I have found my list spiraling out of control and I lose the meaning behind actually sending the cards, which defeats the purpose entirely. I have also come to a point in my life where I don’t give many Christmas gifts. I exchange one with my boyfriend and bring one to parties where there is a gift exchange. For all other family members and close friends, I focus on finding great gifts for birthdays only. This has all but eliminated the stress and pressure I used to experience surrounding gift-giving.

If you have children and find your Christmas gift lists overwhelming, I want to pass on an idea a friend told me about – buying only four gifts for each child: something they want, something they need, something they wear, and something they read. For more on that idea, see herehere, or here.

Give to Others
Giving to those who are less fortunate is a great way to remember to be thankful for what we have. There are many ways to give back during the holidays, whether it’s donating time or resources. If there is a cause near and dear to your heart, you can reach out to that organization to inquire directly about ways to give back or get involved. Some examples that come to mind include: drives such as Toys for Tots or Coats for Kids, donating gifts to Ozanam Inn, serving food at Bridge House, or adopting a family through CCANO.

Be Thankful
What are you grateful for this holiday season? Making a gratitude list can improve your mood and keep you centered during busy times. The holiday push toward consumerism can remind us all too often of what we are lacking, when in fact the opposite is true. We always have exactly what we need! Remember to thank the special people in your life and focus on feelings of gratitude for other areas you are happy with – work, health, etc. If you find yourself feeling negatively toward a person or situation that is beyond your control, try to find the hidden silver lining or positive quality in the person/experience – it will help to shift your perspective.

Make Yourself a Priority
Take time out just for you. For me, this means scheduling a massage on my birthday in early December and regular manicures as a “treat” to look forward to after a long week of work. This is crucial: you absolutely need to take care of yourself before you can take care of any person or thing around you. Making a point to carve out time for yourself or penciling in bright spots to look forward to on your calendar is actually a great year-round practice. If you don’t do this already, now is a perfect time to start.

Think About the Year Ahead
I wrote earlier this year about vision boards, which are a sort of collage that serve as a reminder throughout the year of your goals. I love looking back at the end of the year to see what I’ve accomplished and then using that information to see what I want to work on for the next year. For example, from my 2014 goals, I see I’ve made some progress in the areas of money (I increased my salary), health (I started a regular acupuncture regimen), and education (I applied to and was accepted for a graduate school program). I still need to work on some areas, like being on my phone less and meditating more. I’m excited to incorporate these into my larger goals for 2015 and to see where the New Year takes me.

We would love to hear about ways you keep yourself feeling centered during the holidays and any goals you have for 2015! Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. Happy Holidays from Yoga Lagniappe!

 

Alternative Healing Series: What is Thai Yoga?

By Nikki Carter

Thai Yoga fuses yoga postures with massage, acupuressure, and more. (Photo: Kelly Haas)

Thai yoga fuses yoga postures with massage, acupuressure, and more. (Photo: Kelly Haas)

Thai yoga, or Thai massage, is a form of bodywork that blends movement with pressure and gentle assists. Over the last few years, I’ve seen various studios in the city offer workshops for those interested in this practice. Thai yoga can be an interesting and new experience for seasoned yogis, as well a great introduction to yoga for beginners and those with injuries.

One of the practitioners in New Orleans is Kelly Haas, who teaches at Swan River Yoga and has a background in Anusara Yoga; she offers restorative yoga, thai yoga therapeutics, and integrative yoga therapy. Kelly told me she is “consistently inspired by the resiliency of the human body and our capacity to heal ourselves. One of my main goals in sharing yoga is to express that yoga in some form is for everyone.”

Photo: Kelly Haas

Photo: Kelly Haas

As to the benefits of integrating Thai yoga into her repertoire, she explains, “Integrative yoga practices that include restorative and Thai therapeutics are deliciously balancing and clearing, and have a wide range of physical and emotional benefits. They increase function of our nervous system, lower stress levels, and provide a safe environment for the body to heal from injuries and imbalances.”

If you’re interested in exploring Thai Yoga for yourself, contact Kelly or view the Swan River Yoga schedule.

Thank you for reading! As a special thank you, from now until March 1, 2015, Kelly will offer 20% off the first yoga therapeutics private session for readers that mention Yoga Lagniappe. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  To get lagniappe delivered directly to your inbox click here, enter your information in the box at the top right corner to subscribe.

 

sticky mat

  Warning, you might get stuck on this page.  YOGA LAGNIAPPE will unglue your stickiest yoga questions in our Sticky Mat section.  You’ll hear from local teachers and students about the challenges they find on and off their yoga mats.  Plus enjoy great articles on all things yoga and wellness related. If you have a […]