By Sylvia Channing, January, 2017

It’s the New Year. 2017 C.E., the Year of the Rooster, the Year of the Sun, the dawning of a new epoch in American politics… The coming of the New Year could already mean a lot of things to you. Often times, the weeks leading up to year’s end can be a heavy mix of reunions, celebrations, and deep periods of reflection. Aspects of your life—habits, patterns, relationship dynamics—that you may have been ignoring or glossing over for the better part of the year come into focus, and the realizations can be harsh. There’s something about “The New Year” that glimmers like a portal. Once we have passed through, we will surely emerge reborn, resolved to become “better” in this way or that. We will clean up the ugly messes we realized we were making back in December.

And, it is something like that. January really can be a time to reset. It’s still the middle of winter, but we’ve gotten used to the cold. The days are getting a little longer, but there’s still the feeling that R&R is being encouraged by the cosmic clock. January is kind of like a good setup for a restorative pose; using all the bolsters, blankets and straps you can get your hands on, moving slowly and with care. It’s a time to design the pattern that will frame and support your life in the coming year, and it’s important to do it thoughtfully. Unfold the blanket completely so you’re not folding hidden creases into your shape, and right away, adjust the bolster until it sits just right, rather than brushing it off until it’s driving you crazy. Choosing to approach your resolutions right away, gently, knowing that at first it may all be awkward and effortful, will set the stage for an easier entry, and with time the edges will soften. Satisfactory preparation will offend self-judgement and criticism in the long run.

A teacher of mine said in her class recently: your body isn’t your temple. If it were, you’d only ever be there for ceremonies and there wouldn’t be room for the wilder, messier, less-than-holy journeys and experiences of life. Your body is more like your house. In our bodies, we live. We make messes, we survey the damage, and we spend a few days (or weeks, or months, or years!!) cleaning those messes up. This month, start cleaning out the basement. Decide to be still with the discomfort that so often precedes a habitual way of dealing with things, and see what arises in that stillness. The seasonal rhythm of the Earth is on your side now. So slow down. Take time to reflect, restore, and make room for new patterns to take shape.

Sylvia Channing

Sylvia completed her 300 Hour teacher training at Yoga Shanti with Colleen Saidman and Rodney Yee. She likes to sequence dynamic alignment into a flow class that focuses the mind and ignites heat in the body, in the hopes that her students enjoy the challenging postures and leave feeling relaxed, clear and even. When she is not on her mat (or your mat), she is probably in a garden drawing lots of earthly inspiration for her asana practice!

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