With the dawn of each New Year, there’s the typical buzz about resolutions, reflections, intentions, or goals for the days and months to come. Regardless of whether you balk at the idea of New Year's resolutions, or whether you’re a keen goal-setter come January 1st, it’s pretty natural to approach a New Year as a bit of a fresh start. A clean slate. And one thing I’m sure we all have in common: the desire to make the year ahead a good one. I’m pretty certain that no-one rings in a New Year with the hopes that it will be shittier than the year before.
So, in the spirit of looking forward to the year ahead, here’s how you can get clear on what you want for the new year (and how you can lose some of the shitty stuff that you might have encountered last year.) Grab a notebook or some paper – you can burn all of these notes later, but for now it helps to get your thoughts down in writing. Now, answer these questions:
1. What were your favourite parts of last year?
2. What were the worst parts of last year?
3. What do you want to do more of this year?
4. What do you want to do less of this year?
5. Who are the people you enjoy hanging out with the most?
6. Who are the people you find most difficult to be around?
7. What activities make you happiest?
8. What activities drain you?
9. What is most important to you in your life right now?
10. At the end of this year, what are five words you’d like to use to describe the year you’ve had?
Take a few minutes to read through your answers. Often, simply taking the time to think about these questions gives us insight on how we’d like to spend our energy in the year ahead. There’s a quote by Robin Sharma that I love: “Your daily schedule reflects your deepest values.” If we say we value health and family time, yet are working 14-hour days and constantly eating on the run, our schedule does not reflect our values. Of course we all have days (or weeks) that what we want to be doing conflicts with what we need to be doing, but if we have a clear picture of our priorities we can get back on track when we need to.
The answers to your questions above are a cheat-sheet of what is important (and what’s not important) to you. Be sure to carve out time in your schedule so your calendar reflects what you want your year to look like. May 2015 be a great one for you.
If you're looking for more ideas on how to start the year off right, here's a new tradition I started a while back. Or maybe you'd be interested in an apporach that focuses simply on five things. Regardless of how you bring in 2015, I wish you health and happiness in the year ahead.
Oh, Christmas. Here it is again. It's crept up quickly, and—if you’re like me—there are a few last-minute gifts left to buy. If you’re time-crunched and scrambling to get something special for the favourite yogi or wannabe yogi in your life, rest assured, it’s not too late to get the perfect gift! Here are my top picks for last-minute yoga presents that are easy to get, but sure to please. Because, really, who couldn’t use a little more Zen in their life?
With hundreds of yoga classes of various lengths and choice of practice styles, a yearly subscription to a site like www.myyogaonline.com or www.yogaglo.com is a gift that keeps on giving all year round.
Whether it’s a mat, a foam block, a yoga strap or—my favourite—an eye pillow, yoga props are the perfect gift for someone just developing a yoga practice. They can be purchased at most yoga studios or sports stores, and can also be found at Indigo or Target.
Most yoga teachers offer private (one-on-one or small group) classes, either in-home or at a studio. Regardless of how long someone has been practicing, they can always benefit from a private class. It’s also a great gift for someone who’s been eager to start yoga but is anxious about trying a class for the first time.
If your yogi attends a studio, or if there’s a place they’ve been wanting to check out, purchase a gift certificate for a five-class pass, or for a certain dollar amount. It’s a fantastic way to give them the gift of health and relaxation that they can use on their own schedule.
There is a huge variety of yoga books to choose from, and they are the perfect stocking stuffer. At your local bookstore, you’ll find books that offer specific sequences and posture descriptions or books that discuss yogic philosophies as they apply to life. If the line-ups are too long, you always have the option of purchasing your chosen book for download to any reading device.
While you're giving a the gift of Zen to others, why not find some yourself? If you're struggling to get through the Christmas craziness, maybe you're in need of a little self-care. Or perhaps you could use one of these five yoga practices to keep you Zen. Regardless of how you get through it, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!
The holiday train has left the station. The countdown to Christmas is on and for many, the calendar for the next month is already full. There are lots of ways to stave off stress this holiday season, but one sure-fire way to stay happy over the holidays is to make sure you fit in some self-care.
It may not be possible to take a day at the spa (although if you can swing it, all the power to you!) so I suggest slipping in some small moments of self-care every day. It’s amazing how a few minutes of taking care of ourselves can positively affect not only our mindset, but the way we interact with those around us. It may seem like a simple concept to prioritize self-care, but it’s easy to forget to carve out time for ourselves when we get busy.
Here are a few ways to sneak in self-care amidst the Christmas chaos:
Take the opportunity to turn in early on nights that you don’t have social gatherings or houseguests. Banking enough sleep makes it much easier to sustain the physical and mental demands of the holiday season.
After the kids have been tucked in (and before you tackle the dishes and the laundry,) run a bath, light some candles, and let yourself take a long, relaxing soak in the tub.
Tack on an extra five or ten minutes to your grocery shop or errand run. Sit in the car and listen to a mini-meditation.
If it’s not a reality to head out for a walk, a run, a cross-country ski by yourself, get out into nature with the family. Research shows that being in nature is a mood booster.
Whether the kids have nap time, reading time, craft time, or TV time, schedule some quiet time each afternoon. You can cozy up and read a good book or simply listen to some calming music.
Before you fall asleep, take a few moments to look back through your day and pick three highlights. You can record these in a notebook, or simply take a little time to appreciate the best parts of your day.
Whether your "team" includes your husband, partner, mom or other family and friends, come up with a plan so each of you get a few hours to themselves at some point. For example: You might take a yoga class while the kids head out to the local rink with their dad.
The holidays are supposed to be a happy time. Plan to do things you enjoy, and let yourself remember that laughter and fun are an important part of self-care.
If you get too wound up to sleep during the holidays, try these relaxation and meditation tips for sleep. If you’re feeling guilty for telling the kids to play by themselves while you take a much-needed break, here’s why you should leave your kids alone – often. And whatever your holidays may bring you, in the form of tinsel or tantrums, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.