Another new year beginning. It can be such a loaded time: one of possibilities and fresh starts, but too often also a time where we focus on all we're not, on all we haven't managed to accomplish (yet again). Wherever I go, I've been inundated with special offers for fitness, diets, and more things to consume with the promise that this is what I've been missing for health and happiness.
What if, instead of using the new year as a time of willing ourselves, others, or our world to change, we could use the ringing in of the new year as a bell of mindfulness? A call to appreciating our lives, the people in them, and our world in all their beautiful, exasperating, vibrant messiness? To accept that we are enough exactly as we are right now, and to using our energy to practice seeing the patterns, triggers, and biases that keep us stuck in a sense that we must be more, have more?
I rang in 2019 with my 3 year old, who found a deep affinity with a holiday centered around staying up late. Toasting the new year with my ebullient son -- who was thrilled with the treat of having sparkling cider in special cups at midnight -- was a poignant reminder of the joys that are available if we allow ourselves to notice and embrace even the simplest things. This was such a helpful reminder to me, especially this year. I realized I'd been feeling so very weighed down by the state of our earth, by current events in the U.S., and how far it feels like we are from resolving the pressing questions of our time. The combined sense of responsibility and powerlessness I've felt mixed together in a hopelessness that accompanied me through the days and haunted my nights.
I believe that any hope for growth in the world must start within ourselves, with a commitment to seeing things as they are, clearly and compassionately. What helps me most in unravelling the knots of conditioned responses is my time on my mat each day. You see, yoga is so much more than physical exercise. While it contains within it the seeds of physical health and healing, it's at the more subtle levels this daily work truly begins to take root. With my first breaths, I feel a settling into my body, and as I begin to move through the flowing rhythm of the opening sequences, my attention turns to an awareness of moving, lengthening, expanding energy. While I'm practicing, I exist in a place of clarity, perspective, and hope; and the more often I'm able to navigate to this place of innate wisdom, the more accessible it becomes on and off the mat. In these years of parenting a young child, often-interrupted practices are the norm; but what I've come to trust is that the impact my asana practice has on my life is present, whether I have the time for just the opening sun salutations, a full series, or something in between.
The profound empowerment of this embodied wisdom is what drives me to share Ashtanga Yoga with others. In learning these postures by heart -- postures carefully sequenced to reveal physical, energetic, and mental health -- we're freed to find our own truths deep within ourselves. Learning and deepening into the sequences of Ashtanga, we're building an invaluable tool to accompany us through and enrich our lives.
This January marks the start of my second year in this venture of sharing Ashtanga Yoga on my own. I am honored to teach this practice, and want to thank each and every one of you who have showed up. Your openness, vulnerability, and dedication inspire me daily. I look forward to another year of continuing on this path of self-exploration and growth together. Come as you are, do what you can, and trust in the process.