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 remember our gratitude. From this heart-centered place, our deeper intentions bubble up. And, from this heart-centered 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.

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 a note card or index card available for writing a New Year's intention and sage or incense (you can buy sage or incense at your local health food store or Whole Foods or online).

If you'd like, begin with some easy movement to connect with your breath and body. You can start with this simple Short Slow Flow yoga sequence. Then pause, relax, and clear your mind before you contemplate your intention.  You can sit for a few minutes of quiet breathing, any meditation of your choice, or enjoy this 10-minute deep relaxation.

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

Take a moment to bring to mind what you have gratitude for over the past year. Savor your gratitude. Spend a few minutes journaling. At the top of your page write: "I am grateful _____________________... and then continue to write down what ever flows through you.

Then, with an attitude of kindness and forgiveness, write down on a piece of paper, something you no longer want to spend energy on. Something that is no longer nourishing or serving you (a habit, a behavior, a 'thing', a depleting routine, an old story line). Something you don’t want to continue energizing, carrying or clinging to in the next season, or next year. 

Exhale a few long deep breaths.

On the other side of the card, write down what you may want to cultivate more of or see expand in your life (a new habit, behavior, hobby, relationship).  Consider that you are setting conditions for your continually evolution. Pointing yourself in a direction to experience and remember your wholeness.

Then (safely) place it over the candle or in the fireplace. From a spiritual perspective Fire represents our motivation, passion, zeal, creativity. The Element of Fire has great power for forging will and determination. It is also symbolic of wisdom, energy, and our inner light as well as a living element. Fire is also known as a great transformer. It has the power to change everything it touches. As you burn your intention card consider your relationship to this fire. Feel the fire's blessing. 

Burn sage after this ceremony to release any linger negative energy. Smudging sage is not only for spaces; it’s also for clearing your body, mind, and spirit of any negativity, stagnation, or energetic disturbances within or surrounding you. Make sure to invite the sacred smoke around your body from head to toe and front to back before smudging your space. Read more on smudging here.

And may you relax and move slowly from your ritual and into your New Year.

Enjoy this beautiful sage blessing that is base intention for cleansing with sage:  

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.