Happy New Year! A changing of the calendar page, turning over a new leaf, the hope of a new beginning. There is hope but there is also the illusion of imagining that a future day could mean more than the embrace of the present in a new or more faithful fashion.
I am a rebel. I say forget the resolutions! Forget the resolutions and instead set an intention for the New Year. Perhaps an intention that is different from a pledge to be different. So not to be more, but to do less of the unhealthy and more of the healing.
I used to set out lists; things that were going to change once the old man of the present year gave way to the baby of the New Year. In the meantime the days between Christmas and New Years were a Bacchanalian week of self-indulgence and rule breaking. This used to be a time of total excess. Before I got clean and sober it was the period of pulling out the stops before I made the effort to cut back, spend less, get to work on time, keep the house neater on a more regular basis, lose a few pounds, spend more time with the children.
Time has passed. I have a few years of leading a clean and sober life. I haven’t had to make a using or drinking pledge in many years, but in early recovery I still used this period of time to refresh my desire to be more, be better, do less of one thing and more of another. I am not fond of resolutions any more. I refresh my intention to be myself, just as I am, with vigor and with reverence.
In 12 step programs we have a saying “Easy Does It”. We also hear the second refrain “But Do It”- meaning we take it into action. So while we move in ease, with serenity, we also make it real by “making” it real. Similar to the adage that “Meeting Makers Make It” we take action in our recovery. The thinking about going to a meeting doesn’t help me recover. The thinking about doing the steps doesn’t help me recovery, nor does the thinking about health help me heal. I need to do something. But do it easy.
Nowhere is that suggestion to work easy more evident than on the yoga mat. I practice coming to the mat, moving on the mat, moving the breath in the body in the poses. I practice feeling the physical sensations as well as practice watching the chatter in my mind. I note my emotions in response to the poses and the breath. The yoga practice gives me an opportunity to slow down to feel and listen to myself. But it only works if I do it. I need to get onto the mat and do the practice. I don’t need to try to push my body into poses that hurt my joints or spine, but I do practice some challenge so that I can know my limit for any particular pose at any particular day or time.
But it is a New Year. It might be a time to investigate a new practice. What if you have set an intention to try something new? What if yoga is calling you? What are the poses for? What is yoga? What do you do first? Of course there is Youtube, books, and online studios such as “StudioLiveTv”. They can show you a little about what the physical yoga practice is.
But here is the secret. The secret to starting: move. Just move. Move and hold a stretch for 30 seconds. Three long slow deep breaths should do it.
One of the basic starting points is to move the spine six directions: forward fold, arching or back bend, twist to right, twist to left, arc to the right, arc to the left. DONE with spinal flexion. Six minutes and you are complete. That is step one.
Step two: move all your joints. Toe knuckles, ankles, bend and straighten the knees, rotate hips, flex and extend fingers, rotate wrists, bend and straighten elbows, rock and roll shoulders, turn the head from side to side, then ear to shoulder (right and left), then tip the head chin to chest and chin to ceiling. Slowly. Another 10 – 15 minutes have passed. Great job!
Step three: stretch all your muscles. Calves and hamstrings and so on up the body, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. It will “change your life”. You can do all of this in “100 Breaths Before Breakfast”; a sequence that will move your whole body in union with your breath as you prepare for the day.
The discipline of doing a regular routine allows me to feel good about myself and thereby I gain self-esteem. Each and every time I do so I am keeping a promise to myself and affirming how trustworthy I am. I am also gaining faith in my body and trust in its capacity. This will allow me to move into regular yoga classes with more confidence and less likelihood of doing myself harm.
Read about yoga, what is it and what it isn’t by checking out www.yogarecovery.com.