Bring Yoga to Your Resolutions

Awareness Living Yoga Svadhyaya Yoga

Post originally written for YYoga blog –

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali presents the practice of Svadhyaya, or self-study, as a primary component of the yoga practice. This practice of deepening self-awareness can be a valuable tool in the process of setting – and keeping – New Year’s Resolutions.

Here is one framework for setting New Year’s Resolutions with awareness and intention:

Get Honest

Write down every resolution that crosses your mind. Ideas you don’t write down may linger in the back of your mind and eventually steal your focus.

Get Realistic

From your list, pick one resolution that most aligns with the direction you want to move in the New Year. Change is hard to make, and the more changes you try to make, the less likely you are to follow through with any of them.

Get Self-Reflective

Remember the 5 W’s (and 1 H) from high school English? Use them to generate questions that will help cultivate awareness around your patterns, habits and current situation, and then determine the steps you need to take to implement this shift in your life.

Questions you might ask yourself include:


Who will be your support in making this change?

Who might make this resolution more challenging?


What intentions does this resolution reflect?

What will be your obstacles?


Where do you see yourself after making this resolution?

Where will you turn for support?


When will you make time for this commitment?

When will you reassess your progress with this resolution?


Why are you making this change?

Why haven’t you done this in the past?


How will you stay accountable?

How do you define success with this resolution?

Get Realistic – Again

After working through the 5 W’s (and 1 H), does your chosen resolution feel realistic or do you need to explore other possibilities?

Sometimes meaningful change “just happens,” but often it requires effort and a change in approach. By bringing more self awareness into the pursuit of change, I believe we can profoundly and positively affect our ability to make meaningful changes happen in our lives.

Resolution Support!


Having worked as lifeguard at public pools – and now teaching yoga, I am very familiar with the “January Rush” that facilities catering to any sort of fitness activity experience at this time of year.

Recently, a friend relayed to me an experience of a coworker (who works at a very busy fitness facility) being told, “Just make it through January.”

While I understand the comment was made to bolster morale during busy times, I couldn’t help but reflect on the implication that a large percentage of the people attending fitness facilities this month will fail to follow through with their New Year’s Resolutions. I wouldn’t call myself a hopeless romantic, but in certain situations, I am undeniably a hopeless optimist. And, without a word of a lie, I thought to myself in response, “Maybe this year will be the year that everyone follows through with their fitness related resolutions.”

And, I began to consider how I could help the students in my class stay committed to their yoga-related resolutions. Two ideas I came up with were consistently guiding attention to intention and connecting the community.

Guiding attention to intention is something I already focus on in my classes, because I believe it is easier to move in the direction you want to move when you stay focused on that direction. ‎Demi Langford put it beautifully when she wrote, “Setting an intention is like setting the destination on your GPS system.”

At the beginning of every class, I ask my students to take a moment to become clear about why they are practicing. I invite and encourage them to let go of any need for their intentions to be noble or world-changing, and to find what is true in their heart, whether it is simply to escape from pressures outside the class or to build a yogalicious body.

My hope is that by cultivating more presence and awareness around yoga-related intentions the decision to step on to the mat will continue to be made with relative ease.

The second idea – connecting the community – is founded upon a belief that people are more likely to stay committed to something if they are a part of it with other people. The connection doesn’t need to be deep; simply knowing that there will be familiar faces in class can make it easier and more desirable to show up.

At the beginning of my classes, I have been taking a moment to foster this sense of community by asking my students to introduce themselves to one or two other people in the class. My hope is to cultivate enough familiarity that if two of my students ran into each other outside of class they would at least smile and nod to one another – instead of awkwardly looking down as people who recognize but do not officially know each other sometimes do.