New Year's Ritual: Pause and Relax

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.
— Viktor Frankl

Pause now. Relax. Set your Intention.

New Year's is often a time to create resolutions. To fix, change, or improve ourselves: to become happier. However, in resolution setting we tend to disregard the essential wisdom that the journey is not in 'fixing' ourselves, but rather in 'revealing' our inherently exquisite selves.

This is the highest intention of Yoga. We practice to become more centered, relaxed, and aligned in a way that cultivates the right conditions in our body, mind, and spirit which allows our wisdom, radiance, and intrinsic goodness to shine through. When we are in this kind of alignment, we feel our deep rooted connectedness to all things.

From this place we can pause and allow our heart-centered intentions to bubble up. And, from this place, we can hear them and find the courage to act on them.

Try planning a special retreat and ritual day, or even just for a brief ritual - and try this alone or with loved ones to celebrate the turning point together. My family often does this together.

To begin, prepare your space for yoga and meditation.

Create an altar that reflects your gratitude for the past year and your hopes for the future. Have a small card available for writing a New Year's intention and sage or incense (you can buy it at Whole Foods or a health food store or even online).

Start with this Short Slow Flow and then a 10-minute deep relaxation, before you pause for your intention setting, sage ritual. 

After some practice to open your body and clear your mind, find a comfortable seat in front of a candle or fireplace. 

Take a moment to pause and bring to mind what you have gratitude for over the past year. Savor your gratitude. 

Then, with an attitude of kindness and forgiveness, write down on a piece of paper, something you want to release, something you don’t want to take into the next season, or next year, with you. Mentally agree to let it go as you write it down. 

Exhale a few long deep breaths, and on the other side of the card, write down what you may want to cultivate more of or bring into your life. Then (safely) place it over the candle or in the fireplace to be burned up with the rebirth of the sun. (I usually like to burn sage after this ceremony to release any negative energy.) 

Enjoy this beautiful sage blessing that is base intentions of this ceremony:

May your hands be cleansed, that they create beautiful things.

May your feet be cleansed, that they might take you where you most need to be.

May your heart be cleansed, that you might hear its messages clearly.

May your throat be cleansed, that you might speak rightly when words are needed.

May your eyes be cleansed, that you might see the signs and wonders of the world.

May this person and space be washed clean by the smoke of these fragrant plants.

And may that same smoke carry our prayers, spiraling, to the heavens.