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I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. It just seems so unrealistic to expect yourself to change over night. As a yoga student, I know that it takes practice and patience over a long period of time to change a long-held pattern. For example, I’ve been practicing relaxing my jaw for years now, and I still have to remind myself almost constantly. But this time of year we’re all bombarded with messages that remind us that we should lose weight, get healthier, be happier, etc. There’s nothing wrong with setting goals for the future, but I’m a firm believer that taking a yogic approach to those goals will help you reach them faster (and forgive yourself if you fall a little short, too!).
Here are 5 ways yoga can help with common New Year’s Resolutions.
1. Get Healthier. Whether you want to quit smoking, cut back on the Diet Coke, or just exercise more, a regular yoga practice can help. If you have an addiction (whether it’s nicotine or coffee), yoga will help you stay calm and get through those times when you feel like you might have a relapse. Of course, it’s also a great complement to all kinds of exercise from training for a marathon to adding an evening stroll to your routine.
2. Lose Weight. We all know that dieting doesn’t work, and yet every year we feel like we need to vow to lose those five pounds we put on over the holidays. Personally, every time I try to restrict any kind of food it makes me want it that much more. And then comes the guilt! Yoga teaches us that we’re perfect the way we are, and it also teaches us to pay attention to how our bodies feel. That means we learn to eat things that support us, stop eating when we’re full, and recognize when we need to get up and move! Over time, this can add up to weight loss and an increase in overall health. (No guilt necessary.)
3. Get Out of Debt. The mindfulness we develop on the mat naturally spills over into other areas of life–and that includes finances. The philosophy that we are exactly where we should be in life and we have everything we need goes a long way if you’re the type of person who tends to buy things you don’t need.
4. Spend More Time with Family and Friends. We all have the same number of hours in a day; and with work, chores, and other obligations it might seem like adding yoga to your daily to-do list would make it harder to spend more quality time with family and friends. I beg to differ. When I practice regularly, I have more energy so I’m more efficient at my work and have more free time. Also, I’m less stressed, which makes me a lot more pleasant to be around–so my family and friends actually want to be around me.
5. Enjoy Life More. This is my favorite New Year’s Resolution–and the only one I make every year! If you practice yoga, you already know how much it can help you to slow down and savor the little moments that make life worth living. The more you practice it, the better you’ll get at it, and the more fulfilled you’ll feel with your life as a whole!
How has has yoga helped you reach your life goals?