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Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.  ~Benjamin Franklin

About 10 or 12 years ago, I resolved never to make a New Year’s resolution again. And so far, I’ve stuck with it. In fact, it’s the only resolution to ever stick! I always hated New Year’s resolutions, never understood why at the new year we’d make the effort to change when the opportunity lies with us all year long. (Of course, I was never big on the ‘Hallmark’ holidays either – Valentines Day? Why not show how much you care all year, why just one day?). I only made resolutions because everybody did it (I know, not very self-standing, but hey.. what does the average teenager know of standing up to the crowd?), and everybody always asked, “what’s your resolution?” When I would try to answer, “I don’t care to have one,” I’d receive looks of disappointment and annoyance. Well I don’t really care to disappoint or annoy anyone, and until I gained a little more self-confidence in my individuality, I conceded to having resolutions.

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account. ~Oscar Wilde

I witnessed others making resolutions, and failing.. I don’t know of a single person, who has made a New Year’s resolution and stuck with it all year. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, I’m just saying I’ve never met anyone. Most resolutions are about losing weight, or getting in shape, or cutting out an unhealthy habit (i.e. smoking, drinking, etc.). These are all great, but I often wonder if the label of a resolution sets us up for failure. There is the pressure to accomplish the goals we set before us, and if/when we don’t accomplish them we self-flagellate. The minute we eat that donut or pack of cookies, or have a cocktail with dinner, we accept ‘failure’ and give up. Perhaps that cookie or cocktail is part of the process.. why condemn when we can easily get back on the path? Why do we fight ourselves, and force these resolutions upon us?

I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years’. ~Henry Moore

Perhaps this year, resolve not to resolve. Make an intention, to seek the truth of your self – not to change, but to grow every day. If you have habits you want to get rid of, ask yourself if they are truly serving you and who you want to become. If not, acknowledge that and they’ll eventually fall to the wayside. Perhaps these habits have existed until now to help you realize what truly lies deep down, at the very heart of your being. And like Valentine’s Day, you don’t have to grow or acknowledge yourself only at the societal designation of the new year.. an intention can be formed now, in this breath, in this moment. Of course, the end of the year is a great time to look back and reflect on the choices you made, the questions you asked, the answers that arose. Reflect on these and learn from them.. but don’t try to force a change. In the course of evolution, there were rarely any dramatic solitary instances that changed the outlook of the world. It was always tiny little tweaks and twists over hundreds, thousands, millions of years that brought about the world we know today. It’s only because it takes a while for these tweaks to be realized, it appears to the outside observer that they were extraordinary events. So start with a little tweak, and see how you can grow! Peel back the outer layers, and find the truth that lies beneath…

~Om Shanti and Happy New Year!



“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” ~Winston Churchill

Take the courage to sit down and listen to your body. Let the hustle and bustle rest for a while, and simply listen. Listen to the molecules within your body. Listen to the cells individually, on a microscopic level. Listen to the bones – the hips, the knees, the ankles, shoulders, wrists..even the knuckles of each individual finger and toe. Listen to the breath as it moves in and out of the body, through the nose. Listen to the lungs as they expand against the rib cage and massage the heart. Listen to the visceral organs as they digest or rest from digestion. Listen with courage. This internal listening, this internal focus is a practice in Pratyahara (sense withdraw, drawing inward and freeing yourself of external distraction) – one of the 8 limbs of Raja Yoga.

When you really listen to the body, you can hear the whispers of body’s requests. Even during an asana practice, listen. If you can’t hear your body (through internal focus) or your breath (both physically and mentally), then your thoughts are drowning out the calls. Listen as you move between the postures – listen to the knees as they bend into Virabhadrasana (warrior), listen to the ankles as they stablize in Vrksasana (tree pose), listen to the heart and back as you open in Ustrasana (camel), listen to your abdominal muscles as they carry you through Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff). This focus will improve your practice, both anatomically and psychologically. By becoming more in tune with the quiet whispers, you’ll be less likely to injure yourself and more likely to reduce the severity of the injury if one occurs. If we ignore the warnings our body tells us, that’s when injuries occur – through distraction.

Beyond the physical whispers, there is also an element of emotion. Listen to the emotions that arise when you take a deeper Ustrasana or Matsyendrasana (spinal twist). Listen to the emotions that arise at the beginning, during, and the end of a yoga class – note how they may change or resolve over the course of one class.

The body will tell you what it needs, if only you listen. The practice of listening will eventually extend beyond the four corners of your mat.

“Often I am still listening when the song is over.” ~M de Saint-Lambert

When the practice is over, the knowledge is still there.. we simply have to continue listening. As your practice develops and grows, you’ll eventually notice the length increasing in your post-Shavasana bliss as well as the brief moments of epiphany occurring more regularly. You’ll become more aware of your body, more in tune with the symphony of physical, psychological and emotional feelings and energies that reside within. More importantly, you’ll become more aware of how you move through the molecules of the world, and how these emotions and energies affect your day-to-day actions and thoughts. It is this greater state of awareness that we receive through dedicated yoga practice – including meditation, concentration, pranayama, asana…all of the 8 limbs.


“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~Lao Tzu

Humans tend to hold on to something or someone, even when all they (or it) bring(s) our lives is tragedy and pain. Just as a tree willingly lets go of the leaves in Autumn, we need to learn that even though something has been an integral part of our lives for whatever length of time – whether it is something beneficial or harmful – there comes a time when we need to let go. There is no telling who we will become, who we are truly meant to be…until we let go of the limitations, the labels, the self-imposed restrictions we place upon ourselves.

It wasn’t until I let go of certain notions I previously had of myself, certain expectations I imposed upon myself, certain qualities I forced myself to possess..that I finally allowed my true self to blossom from within. While something like that can be scary, through yoga and meditation practice I strengthened my ability to see the excitement of change – the opportunity and possibility of the new.

There are many visuals that can embrace the idea of letting go – releasing a caged bird, the leaves falling from the trees, a gentle exhaling sigh. A photo taken by my father, I feel, embraces the duality of remaining strong while letting go.. the delicate balance it requires to see that holding on beyond necessity actually weakens us.

courtesy of Gypsy Dancer Gallery

The dew drop, clinging with strength and suppleness, travels down with the assistance of gravity to the tip of the leaf. The dew drop does not resist, but allows gravity to nurture the path the dew is destined to follow.  As the dew releases its hold on the leaf and the leaf releases its hold on the dew, the separation of these two entities allow the memory of formerly crossed paths to emerge and remain, but not dominate the new path. As the dew is now received with a splash by the Earth, it returns to nourish and quench the soil from which the entire plant (and by extension the leaf itself) emerges. If the dew fails to let go, the Earth remains dry and over time will wither, leaving no nourishment for the plant. By holding on beyond its proper time, the dew ultimately deprives itself of greater, more fulfilling life. It’s easy for a dew drop to let go without regard.. it has no central nervous system, and thereby no mind telling it to hold on. If we can let go of the mental blocks and fears that continually tell us to hold on, don’t let go, then perhaps we can experience some new life – nourishing ourselves and those around us in the process. Perhaps even nourishing those whom we wish to continue clinging, giving them an opportunity to take our nourishment and share their energy with the world.

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~Hermann Hesse

Be strong my fellow yogis 🙂


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