January 1st in the western world symbolizes a collective ritual of getting rid of bad habits and setting new year’s intentions. Whether it’s quitting smoking, losing weight, starting a real foods diet, going to the gym more, adding daily meditation or reading a book once a month, the new year sets the tone for a “new you.” Far too often, though, we set intentions that never get realized. Although I like the idea of getting another start, kind of like a mulligan, I never have liked the term “New year, new you” because it symbolizes that we are broken and somehow need fixing. And to put more pressure on ourselves, we only get this one arbitrary opportunity once a year to goal-set and try again.
Yoga Sutra 1.1 written by the sage, Patanjali, who is credited with creating the practice of yoga reads “Atha yoganushasanam,” or “Now begins the study of yoga.” Atha, means now. My yoga teacher, Jennifer Prugh, explains “that in the very first sutra, Patanjali reminds us to be present, to wake up. The past is done; the future is yet to be realized. We only have this moment to act.”
Patanjali reminds us to wake up to our potential by being in this moment.
In yoga class, the practice of being present can transform your whole yoga experience into individual experiences within each pose, offering an opportunity to see the posture and it’s benefits from a new lens. The yoga practice begins again with the next pose. Each moment returning back to the now. Each pose allows us to wake up to our potential.
The real yoga practice is to take this lesson from our mat into the world. The practice is to continually return to this moment of now, and begin again, with fresh eyes. To see today not as mundane or normal, but that can be broken down into the bits and pieces of each moment that make today magical and unique. This is yoga.
January is that special reminder to wake up to the potential within us. In fact, when we are in the now, we realize we were never broken. We have always been whole. It’s not just once a year we set our intentions, rather it’s every moment we get to wake up to ourselves over and over. We have the gift of returning to our wholeness and our potential that has always existed within us. Every step forward is ultimately a step inward to yourself. Yoga is coming home to yourself again and again.