2020 was a year of hurdles, shocks and radical change, for all of us – and on many levels. It was an unprecedented year that many of us are still recovering from to varying degrees. With the initiation of any new year, we move to set goals and resolutions. Though, with the events of last year, this one feels a little different. There’s certainly an increased tone of reflection, reprioritisation and adaptation – furthered by the challenges which have carried through to 2021. With this in mind, we thought it’d be a good idea to dive a little deeper than usual. We went back to the ancient yoga sutras for some yoga-inspired resolutions, to carry us into this new year with grace.
The Yoga Sutras
Thought to be created sometime between 500 BCE and 400 CE, the Indian sage Patanjali carefully synthesised the pre-existing yoga teachings of even more ancient traditions. What resulted was the Yoga Sutras – a text consisting of 195 Sanskrit sutras (aphorisms). Presented in four chapters, the sutras cover the philosophical wisdom of yoga and a balanced life.
Our Yoga-inspired Resolutions
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
In order to achieve a state of yoga, one must develop both practice and detachment.’ – Yoga Sutra I.12
As we move through the first month of the year, it’s a good time to consciously keep a healthy sense of perspective. There’s enough going on without us worrying about things that don’t really matter. You can dissolve negative thought spirals by simply changing physical settings and taking a walk. Sometimes it’s useful to ask yourself the question; ‘will this actually still bother me in a few days?’
2. Consistency is key.
A consistent yoga commitment becomes the core foundation from which our practice can bloom and grow. The same can be said for so other endeavours in our lives – health, hobbies and even relationships.
3. Seek balance.
‘Effort towards steadiness of mind is practice.’ – Yoga Sutra I.12
It’s easy to assume that life will balance itself out. Yet more often, this isn’t the case. Maintaining mental, physical and spiritual balance requires an active effort and practice. Commitment to the art of saying no, yoga, tech detoxes, connecting with nature and a healthy diet are great places to start.
4. Be present.
‘As a result of yoga or sustained attention, the Self is firmly established in its own form and we act from a place from our true, authentic self.’– Yoga Sutra I.13
The sutras remind us that when our attention is scattered, we tend to lose presence and connection to our authentic selves. It’s in these situations that our words become empty and our actions no longer reflect our true desires. This year, we’re setting the conscious intention to slow down and be more mindful, in each moment.
5. No judgment.
‘By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicket, the mind retains its undisturbed calmness.’– Yoga Sutra I.33
A 2021 resolution which will certainly increase equanimity is: no judgement. The simple sutra above, sums it up perfectly. When we’re happy for the good fortune of others, and empathic towards even those who mistreat us – we’re gifted with inner peace. This year, use frustration, anger and disappointment – as catalysts for self-reflection, change and healthy boundary setting. If there was a year to stop taking things personally, this would be it!
Nisha is a freelance writer and astrologer, based in the magical Byron Hinterlands. As well as running her little candle business, her life and loves involve writing, yoga, gardening and spirituality.