The New Year’s Resolution You Need to Have
A recent Marist Poll found that “be a better person” topped this year’s list of most popular New Year’s resolutions. And let’s face it– that’s a great resolution to have!
If we all seek to be better people, that’s sure to make for a better world, right?
But that then raises the question of what we mean by being better people, and how we go about doing that. With such a large, undefined resolution, it becomes easy to lose sight of our goals and slip back into old habits, which might be counterproductive to becoming a better person.
Luckily, if you’re going to join in on the most popular resolution for 2018, yoga teaches you a simple starting point: being kind to yourself.
What Does it Mean to be Kind to Yourself?
In order to be a better person, learning to extend kindness to yourself needs to come first. If you’re not kind to yourself, you’re more likely to perpetuate negative self-talk, hold onto your stress, and constantly compare yourself to others.
When doing these things, you’re going to be easily irritated or feel stressed out. You’ll dwell on your mistakes or anxieties, making you have less patience with co-workers and loved ones alike. It’s hard to say that you’re actively working on being a better person when you’re prone to snapping at the people around you.
When we extend kindness to ourselves, we’re seeking out the opposite path: letting go of negative self-talk, developing healthy techniques for coping with stress, and learning to celebrate yourself.
Cultivating kindness toward yourself helps you let go of the negativity that strains your relationships, and gives you a sense of happiness that multiplies and grows stronger the more you learn to practice it.
How Can You Be Kinder to Yourself
Extending kindness to yourself has three primary components.
Your physical body fuels your daily life. Without a well-balanced diet, plenty of rest, and physical activity, you won’t be performing at your best. You’re going to feel tired and your mind won’t be as clear, not to mention the fact that you’ll be more at risk of long-term health complications like high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic inflammation.
Making small changes to your daily routine can have a huge impact on your physical wellbeing, and can help reinforce your feelings of kindness toward yourself. Choosing water instead of soda at lunch, getting a full night’s rest, eating a plant-based diet a few days a week (or each day if you’re ready to take that step!), and setting aside at least a few hours each week for exercise is going to have an impact on your health and keep you feeling better.
On top of that, when your physical body is being nurtured, you’re going to be in a better place to nurture yourself mentally and spiritually as well.
Your brain carries a huge burden. Think about all the things it does during the day– all the problems you solve, all the questions you get asked, and all the chores that you have to accomplish. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the emotional toil your mind goes through in any given day.
Our minds deserve a break, and giving them a chance to rest is perhaps the best way we can extend kindness to them. If you have a meditative practice, deepening it in the new year should be a priority.
Developing a personal practice for calming your mind can be a daunting task if you’re not experienced with techniques for cultivating mindfulness. If you need some help with that, you’re welcome to reach out to Your Yoga Louisville’s owner, Jessi, to get help setting personal goals. On top of that, coming by the studio for any of our yoga classes will give you the opportunity to detach from your day and focus solely on your movement and breathing, which your mind will appreciate. They’re also great for extending physical kindness to yourself, so they do double duty!
If you’re feeling especially stressed or mentally all over the place, be sure to check out our Yin-based classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays or our Meditation/ Yoga Nidra classes on the first Friday of every month. You can find the full schedule of classes here.
Whether you have a religious practice that appeals to a higher being or a personal practice of reflecting on your connection with the world around you, cultivating spiritual kindness is about honoring that sense of connectedness with something bigger.
One example of cultivating this during a yoga practice is when we conclude the practice by placing our hands at heart center, bowing, and saying “namaste” to our classmates and instructor. This act and use of the word “namaste” is meant to say that we recognize the divine spark in others– that the same divine spark within us is within them.
A good way to practice spiritual kindness outside of the studio is to think about the meaning of namaste when we find ourselves either getting frustrated with someone or feeling envious of them. When those negative feelings come up, reminding ourselves that the same divine spark– in whatever form that may be for you– in us is also within them can help bring us back to center, and remind us of our connection and similarities with others. In doing so, we’re able to honor our connection with something greater than ourselves, and can further let go of the negativity we harbor in our bodies, minds, and souls.
So now that we’ve talked about what it takes to start working on being a better person, we’d like to know what your New Year’s resolution is.
Are you going to give these steps a try? Or is there another goal your working toward? Let us know in the comments below!
Also, don’t forget to come by Your Yoga Louisville for more encouragement and guidance toward fulfilling your resolutions this year. We have an open house on Sunday, January 7th from 9AM to 2PM, which means free yoga and an opportunity to check out the studio. If you’ve been considering visiting Your Yoga, or starting yoga in general, that’s a great time to do so!