I feel like we often get mixed messages in January.
On the one hand, it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. It’s time to get inspired and delve into the first month of the year with a plan for action. It’s time to get inspired and do, do, do. (And don’t even get me started about the diet industry and the messages they send.)
On the other hand, for most of us, it’s cold and dreary outside. We’d rather hunker down and keep hibernating rather than delve into new projects and plans.
I thought about the conflicting signals as I was setting a plan for the year. For the purposes of this project, since I divided the year into thirds, each theme overlaps seasons. So I’m starting in winter, but my theme will continue into the early months of spring. (Which, let’s be honest, in some parts of the world, still looks a lot like winter.)
I decided my theme for the first third of the year would be Tapas, because while on the one hand I don’t feel especially fiery right now, I feel like I also need to deliberately cultivate heat in my own practice. Even living in Austin, Texas, which has mild winters, I struggle with seasonal-affective disorder due to reduced sunlight. I need to bring powerful, warming elements into my personal practice to help keep me going until the days get longer. The theme of tapas also integrates well with the work I’ll be doing in the Empowered Life Circle over the next two months. And if I get a little too hot, I always have yoga nidra to help balance things out.
After concluding with the Empowered Life Circle practice in February, I plan to practice the Buttha shuddhi kriya for 40 consecutive days. This sadhana is required to complete my ParaYoga Level 1 certification, and also fits the theme I’m working with. Plus, I think it will be a nice way to bookend my ELC work. Then in April, my birthday month, I will jump back into the work with The Four Desires that I started back in October. I’ll round out my tapas-themed portion of the year by delving deep into the workbook and practices. I think that will be a wonderful way to walk into my 35th year.
In terms of other fun things I’ll be doing, I’ve enrolled in a four-week online Sanskrit course. I’ll be going on a women’s retreat with my teacher and friends at Studio Mantra in February. And I’m excited to attend The Next Evolution of Vinyasa Yoga with Jason Crandell at the end of April! That seems like a perfect way to conclude the first phase of my year.
I’ll be checking in occasionally throughout the year about how my personal practice is going. I’ve also set up a similar plan for my teaching. Stay tuned for posts about that!
If you’re in need of ways to kick-start your own practice, there’s still time to register for Yoga for Writers on January 26th. Use the promo code BLOG for 20% off registration!
 If you suffer from acute or chronic mental illness, please seek out the guidance of a qualified mental health professional. For a list of affordable mental health resources in Austin, click here.