January is a wonderful time to embrace new beginnings. The month physically signifies the start of a new year on our calendar, and the season is a great time for cleansing; both the physical body and the spirit. Out with the old, and in with the new. January can be a time for fasting after the feasting of December. If you choose to cleanse or fast, please do it in a way that honors your body, and your body type. Some people choose to fast from a particular food, for example, refined sugar, for a set amount of time. Others may fast for a day or two, choosing to take in teas, and broth. Please take into consideration your lifestyle. If you are a busy, mama, or working adult, honor yourself, by cleaning up your diet, and maybe choosing to fast from heavy foods for a day or two. Soups, broths, and tea are very nourishing. You need to be sure that you can maintain your energy levels as you fast. Remember, that we cannot always stop life to sit on a mountain top for a few days. Life goes on around us, and we need to care for ourselves as we care for others. Fasting from television and media can be very renewing as well. Spend your extra time reading, praying, doing outside activities in nature, and nourishing your spirit. January is a time of renewal to prepare for the new year.
Many people make new year’s resolutions in January. I am not one of those people. I think that resolutions can be a useful tool, but often times they are used in a negative way. Resolutions can set us up to fail, as we may resolve unrealistic, and unreasonable goals for the new year. Rather than make lofty resolutions, I prefer to set my intentions for the coming year. Intentions differ from resolutions in a few ways. A resolution is more like a goal, with a finish line, and an intention is a way of moving through life, one day at a time, one breath at a time. I find this a much more positive, and healthy way to live. With my daily intentions clear, I can become more awake, aware of what sort of goals I need, rather than something that is beyond realistic expectation. I intend this year to live in gratitude for all of the blessings life has offered me, to embrace each and every moment as the gift that it is, and to embrace myself and my family with the grace and love God has offered me. I stand by my intention to stand upon grace, walk by faith, live in love, and accept the abundance of Grace and Peace flowing from above. This is my wish for all of you as well. May you be blessed with love, and allow the joy of life to blossom into a new year.
I wanted to share a short yoga sequence to help you to embrace the new year, and to embrace yourself! When we physically move our bodies, our mind and spirit moves as well. This little practice is a great reminder to embrace all that is, all that was, and all that will be. We also need to show ourselves, our own personal being, love and gratitude. Often, we become caught up in not being enough, or giving all the love and nourishment to those we love and care for, and forgetting to pause and take a moment to renew our own spirit and inner strength. This little practice gives pause to that cycle, and allows room for a new cycle of love, gratitude, and spiritual growth to begin. If we cannot first love and care for ourselves, or if we are continually caught in a negative thought cycle of who we are, we cannot love and care for our families, and those who need us, as deeply as we would like to, or that we have the ability to. Give yourself the gift of a few moments to embrace yourself, then share this great practice with your family. If you have kiddos at home, grab them and begin a new tradition. Little ones naturally love yoga, you may be surprised at the fun that you have together in these few short moments! Have fun with it, and go with the flow. Get ready for a New Year, and a New You!
Inhale your arms wide open. Open them as wide as you can get them, with your palms turned up to the sky. Lift your heart and your ribcage up, as though your heart is a beautiful bird longing to escape its cage and fly freely up into the clouds above you. Take a few deep, conscious breaths here. Feel your breath moving in and out through the rings of your nostrils as you stand with your feet firmly rooted into the earth below. Take a moment to open yourself up to new possibilities, to new beginnings. Continue to uplift your heart. Set it free.
As you exhale, cross your arms in front of your body to form an X with your arms, palms still facing upward toward the sky. Inhale another deep, loving breath, scoop your hands upward toward your shoulders. Allow the hands to rest on the shoulders, or upper arms, wherever they reach without pushing or forcing them. Placement is not all that important, what matters is that you embrace yourself. Give yourself a hug. Keep your heart lifted. Breathe here for a few breaths, drawing the breath deeply into the belly. Allow your belly to round, and inflate like a balloon with breath, and as you exhale, gently press your belly back toward your spine to press all of the breath out of the lungs completely. Send yourself a little love as you stand embracing YOU. Breathe in love as you inhale, and breathe out love as you exhale. Let love flow through you.
When you are ready, inhale deeply, un-cross your arms, and open them up wide again, as before. Lift up your heart, and open yourself up to give and receive love. Open and expand with the breath, allowing anything that needs letting go of, anything that is causing heaviness or weight, to fall away. Bring your attention back to the breath. Breathe deeply into the belly again for a few moments. Be ready for new beginnings.
When you are ready to exhale, cross the arms again, this time with the opposite arm on top. This may feel weird, but just go with it, it is just your non-dominate arm. Embrace yourself once more. Give yourself a squeeze. Send love out through your arms and hands back to YOU. Breathing deeply, send some love straight to your heart. Root yourself deeply in love, and feel your feet grounded firmly into the earth.
Inhale your arms open once more, opening yourself up to love and new beginnings. Feel yourself surrounded by, and uplifted by, love.
Upon your exhale, scoop the palms of the hands toward each other, bending at the elbows. Gently, bring the palms of the hands together to touch in front of your heart center, thumbs gently resting against your sternum. This is prayer pose. Take a moment to pray a blessing for your day, for your year, for yourself and your family. Continue to feel love filling your heart, allowing loving energy to overflow, and spill out into your life, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Let your heart become a beautiful vessel for divine love to flow through. Nourishing not only you and yours, but healing all others you may come into contact with, joining a universal divine flow of love. Take a moment of gratitude and give thanks for taking the time to embrace yourself.
May You Stand on Grace, Walk by Faith, Live in Love, and May Grace and Peace Be Yours in Abundance.
~1 peter 1:2
* I would like to give a photo credit to my son William, who did an amazing job taking these photos for me. Will is eleven years old, and loves photography, and videography. He is an artist with a keen, and creative eye. I look forward to helping cultivate a shared passion with him. I am so proud of him….Thanks, Will!