At this time of year, I find myself stepping away from the Asana of yoga and sitting within contemplation of the Yamas.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that I stop teaching around now and spend some time living in my caravan at the beach, it could be that school holidays mean that each time I move through the poses my five-year-old decides that he should be on my back, or maybe it’s due to the fact that one calendar year is drawing to a close and I can reflect on how my year has been.
Whatever the reason, I know I am not alone in feeling the urge to set some intentions, and when I find myself pencilling a little list, I like to use the Yamas as my guide. Just in case you need a little refresher, here they are in simple form.
Compassion for all living things
That’s towards yourself as well remember. Not harming others or ourselves. No more destructive self-talk, poisoning our planet, violence… you get it?
Commitment to the truth
Straight up honesty, even when Its hard, even when it seems counterintuitive, even if it means stepping away from gossip.
That goes for time, possessions and attention just for a start. It’s a little more complex than just steering clear of pocketing other people’s stuff but we’ll dive a little deeper into this another time.
Merging with the one
It’s a big one. I explore it as a connection to the mother; our planet and the god within.
Letting go of the need to strengthen our egos with wanting, reaching and desiring… or at least recognising it as it occurs.
These concepts guide me in trying to form my basis for the year ahead.
Goals for 2020
See things as they truly are. That way you can implement change or practice acceptance and get on with it.
Love yourself, even the dark parts, shine light on them and let them breathe.
Stop using plastic, don’t aim to use less, don’t hope to do better, it’s too late for that so just make a change now.
Buy 2nd hand. We’ve produced enough crap to keep circling the globe a number of times so let’s use it again.
Be Kind, to the person next to you in line, the person trying to merge into the stream of traffic, the neighbour who shouts, your children, just be kind.
Love our children, and they are all of ours, when they smile, smile back. Let them be free, don’t force them to conform to old fashioned expectations that don’t do any of us any good. We need them to be creative energetic thinkers, not quiet frightened boxes that we can stack neatly.
Respect this planet and the creatures that live here, in the oceans, the land or even in your houses. Re-home that spider if you can’t live with it, don’t kill it just because you don’t understand it.
Move more, ride your bike when you need to get somewhere close by, stretch when you wake in the morning, get to know your aches and pains, accept them or relieve them. You can’t escape your body so enjoy living in it.
Don’t judge or gossip. We are all on this planet doing the best we can do with what we have been given, understand that sometimes you just don’t understand.
Look around and notice the beauty, look up, look down, look inside and see. The light, the dark and the smudges of colour in between.
Know that you’re ok, just as you are, just as you’ve always been, whatever it is that you find know you are loved.
Eat less beef and consume less dairy. Excessive dairy farming is not great for our planet, science has proven it plenty.
Take responsibility and act, when you see someone crying ask if they’re ok, pick up the plastic you see on the side of the road. There’s no point being annoyed at the person at fault. If you don’t act that person is you.
Find purpose and community, if that seems a daunting task then start with this list and pretty soon you’ll find you have both.
Sonya Simpson is a yoga teacher, content writer, business director and mother of two small boys. She lives with her partner in Auckland and teaches a style of yoga that is based around kindness to self, inquiry through movement and freedom to explore. Sonya is passionate about yoga and exploring the ways that cultural and societal expectation has affected wellbeing. Having experienced the benefits of returning to self through yoga during over 20 years of practice, she is passionate about continuing to research and explore how it can help others both inside and outside of the yoga community, sharing her findings wherever she can. More information can be found on her website, Facebook or Instagram.