For many of us the closing of one year and the beginning of the next feels like a natural time to reflect on the past and look towards the future, perhaps imagining and planning what type of year we would like to have. This year in particular I feel it’s important to take time to absorb all we have been through in the last 12 months, all that we have lost, all that we have experienced, all that we have gained. By digesting the past year as best as we are able to, we can then more clearly tune into our hopes and dreams and aspirations for the year ahead.
I teach an annual workshop each January called ‘Stretch, Relax and Resolve’. It’s a yoga and meditation workshop designed to sweep away cobwebs and set intentions for the year ahead. We focus on stretches to release tension in the body, meditation, and breathing techniques to release tension in the mind and a long guided relaxation known as yoga nidra. Yoga nidra can bring incredible calmness, quietness & clarity, allowing us to connect to our unconscious mind and with this connection, we look to discover what we really want for ourselves in the coming year.
Though often translated as yogic sleep, during yoga nidra we are in a relaxed state of awake-ness. In true sleep, our conscious mind switches off and our unconscious mind takes control. In yoga nidra the conscious mind remains active and as we relax, we are able to make a connection to our unconscious mind. We can then use the conscious mind to direct the unconscious mind, very much like self-hypnosis. We traditionally use the connection between the two parts of the mind to make a resolve and this resolve is known as a sankalpa.
I have found that teaching yoga nidra and sankalpa discovery around the new year works really well as it’s a time when many are thinking about making New Year’s resolutions. When people are naturally thinking about what they might want to change or add to their lives, it means they are already in a reflective frame of mind and that’s helpful for the practice. It also means that I am able to offer something to my students that supports where they are in this moment, looking to the year ahead.
Of course, every day is a new day and January is not imbued with special magic. While the new year is a conventional time to make resolutions, each new moment offers the same opportunity for us to connect to our true selves, and yoga nidra can be practiced at any time.
If you are interested and want to know more about the practice of yoga nidra, please do get in touch. I am always more than happy to talk about yoga J
Wishing you clarity for the year ahead.
Take good care of yourself, Clair.