The mantra above is a recommended mantra for the new year. It is a mantra for removing obstacles from your path and for honoring new beginnings.
If possible, try chanting this mantra 108 times, an auspicious number in the yogic tradition. Using a mala (prayer beads) is helpful if you are going to chant this number of times. An alternative is to simply chant the mantra 3 or 7 times as a way of centering yourself in meditation or the beginning of a yoga practice.
2. Create a Sankalpa
New Year’s Eve is a great time to set an intention for the year ahead; a quality that you would like to embody in the new year. The yogic term for an intention is a sankalpa.
Unlike a New Year’s resolution, which we often think of as a goal to help us achieve something we don’t currently have, a sankalpa is designed to bring forth from within qualities that are already inside of you, just waiting to blossom with the right nurturing and focus.
According to psychologist and yoga instructor, Kelly McGonigal, “a sankalpa practice starts from the radical premise that you already are who you need to be to fulfill your life’s dharma. All you need to do is focus your mind, connect to your most heartfelt desires, and channel the divine energy within.…A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma—our overriding purpose for being here. The sankalpa becomes a statement you can call upon to remind you of your true nature and guide your choices.”
Find a time and place where you can be alone and in a quiet, welcoming space. Light a candle, burn incense, sit quietly, and take a few deep breaths. If you’d like, you can begin with the mantra practice described above, or practice a few rounds of alternate-nostril breathing to help balance and calm your mind and nervous system, promoting clear thought and insight.
You may also want to have a pen and paper nearby.
With the eyes closed, begin to brainstorm a list of qualities you would like to embody in the coming year. If its helpful to you, you could write down a list of qualities as they come to you.
Below are a few qualities to get you started, but don’t let this list limit you!
passionate, loving, peaceful, abundant, joyful, serene, healthy, vibrant, compassionate
Take your time, and allow all of the possibilities to bubble up to the surface. Once you’ve completed this practice, sit for a few minutes as you allow one quality to emerge as the one you’d most like to embody in the coming year. There is no wrong answer, but when setting an intention, it is helpful to have a one-pointed focus so that your energy is directed very clearly towards unfurling this gift inside of you. When your focus becomes scattered, things become more difficult.
As my friend, Tricia, used to say, “set an intention. Trust that the universe will support you in all ways.”
Once you have chosen a word, it is time to set your intention in the form of an affirmation. Remember, a sankalpa is an internal vow you make to yourself.
When creating a sankalpa, it is important to keep it positive, in the present tense, and in the first person.
For example, if the quality you chose is kindness, your intention for the year might be:
I am always kind and caring towards myself and others
Here are a few more examples to inspire you:
I am peace
I am the embodiment of lovingkindness
I am guided by inner wisdom
Compassion is my true nature
I am in perfect health
I can see all things with clarity
I am filled with abundance
I accomplish whatever I wish to do easily and effortlessly.
I am powerful, capable and strong.
I am loving to myself and others.
Once you’ve created your intention, you could write it down on paper, post it on a wall, mirror, or keep it in your pocket to remind you each day of your intention. The more you repeat your sankalpa, either out loud or silently, the more power it has to manifest in your life this year.
3. Asanas (yoga poses)
Yoga asanas (poses) are a powerful tool for transformation. When combined with mantra and pranayama (breathing practice) asana can serve as a form of moving prayer, moving the energy of your sankalpa through you and out into the world.
Metaphorically, at least, twisting poses can be very helpful for “wringing out the old” from your energetic and physical body to clear the way for the energy of the new year. Below are some twisting postures that can be done either individually or as a progressive sequence:
Twisting Chair (parivritta utkatasana)
Revolved Triangle (parivritta trikonasana)
Seated Twist (ardha matsyandrasana)
Supine Twist (supta jaṭhara parivartānāsana)
If you’d like to add more fire to your practice, try adding 8 sun salutations before or after the twisting sequence. Finish with a long savasana, silently repeating your sankalpa as a focal point for your awareness.
Wishing you and your family peace, love, and yoga this year and always!
Andrea is the founder of Inspiration Yoga & Wellness and Shining Kids Yoga and has been teaching yoga to all ages since 2005. She is also a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) through the State of Maryland, having received her MSW degree from University of Maryland, Baltimore.
When not teaching or practicing yoga, Andrea enjoys playing board games with her son, Quinn, singing karaoke, and trying out new vegetarian recipes!