A Mind-Body-Spirit New Year’s Practice: 3 Rituals to Start Fresh

woman doing yoga at home

Whether you’re a fan of the holidays, you love fresh starts, or you happen to be of the opinion that January 1st is just another day, consider honoring the New Year with a special practice. Since we humans already make meaning of this time of year, we may as well make it, well, meaningful!

Creating a complete New Year’s practice may look different for everyone. Perhaps you have an intention to travel or gather with loved ones. Perhaps you like to party and then reset. It could be you already have a special ritual for marking the beginning of the year. Whether you’ll be celebrating from home or abroad, solo or with others, indoors or out in nature, the following suggestions can all be done anywhere and to your own specifications. This complete New Year’s practice includes a well-rounded all-levels yoga practice, a journaling exercise, and a personalized spiritual ceremony. Feel free to add or remove any elements as you like.

Before You Begin

Begin by creating the conditions for calm and serenity. Gather your supplies. You’ll need:

  • A yoga mat
  • Comfortable clothes
  • A journal and pen
  • Any special items you like to use for spiritual ritual

Give yourself 45 minutes to an hour. Go out in nature or create a sacred space in your home. You’ll begin with a 30-minute yoga sequence to open up the physical pathways in your body, prepare for a fresh start, and clear out the metaphorical cobwebs. Then you’ll journal and write out what you are releasing and what you are calling in as the New Year starts. Finally, you’ll do a small personal ceremony to seal in what you are letting go of and what you are inviting in. You can use the suggestions below or get creative and make them even more your own. Happy New Year!

IP SF

Yoga Sequence for a Fresh Start

This well-rounded yoga sequence is intended to open up all parts of your body and prepare you for the coming new year. This all-levels practice will open your chakras, transform pent-up energy from the past year, and prepare you to be more comfortable for the next activities. You will find restful poses, challenging poses, twists, forward folds, backbends, shoulder openers, and hip openers.

Supplies needed: yoga mat, blanket, or cushion

1. Meditation

  • Begin in a comfortable seat. Prop yourself up on a cushion or blanket. Sit with your legs crossed or kneel back on your heels.
  • Bring your hands to heart center and take several deep breaths.
    • Call to mind a sense of gratitude for any lessons you have learned this past year.
    • Call to mind a sense of gratitude for someone or something in your life.
    • Call to mind a sense of gratitude for who you are. Honor yourself for showing up to life.
  • Take several more deep breaths and sit for a short meditation.

2. Child’s Pose

  • When you are ready, come to your hands and knees for Child’s Pose.
  • Bring your big toes to touch, widen your knees, sink your hips back toward your heels, and extend your arms forward.
  • Rest your head on your yoga mat or your hands.
  • Stay for 3 to 5 breaths. Take this time to honor the earth and reflect on who in your life has really supported you or helped you feel grounded this past year.

3. Table Top Pose and Cat/Cow Stretches

  • When you are ready, come to your hands and knees for Table Top Pose and begin Cow and Cat stretches.
  • On your inhale, arch your back and gaze out.
  • On your exhale, round your back and gaze inward to your navel.
  • Move through several rounds of breath like this for 5 to 10 breaths. As you move, consider what or who has helped you ride the waves of life this past year.

4. Downward-Facing Dog Pose

  • Tuck your toes under and lift your knees and your hips into Downward-Facing Dog Pose.
  • Pedal through your feet to stretch the backs of your legs.
  • Stay for 3 to 5 breaths.

5. Rag Doll Pose

  • Take a walk toward your hands and bow forward.
  • Hang out in Rag Doll Pose with your hands in opposite elbows.
  • Sway gently side-to-side.
  • Stay for 5 to 10 breaths.

6. Mountain Pose

  • Bend your knees and roll up to standing.
  • Stand in Mountain Pose with your arms by your sides.
  • Take 5 to 10 deep breaths.

7. Sun Salutations

  • Starting in Mountain Pose, inhale and reach your arms up.
  • Exhale and bow forward.
  • Inhale and lift up halfway and lengthen your spine.
  • Exhale and bow forward.
  • Step back to plank pose and lower to the earth.
  • Inhale and open your chest into Cobra Pose.
  • Exhale and lower down and push back to Downward-Facing Dog Pose.
  • Hold for three breaths.
  • Exhale and step or hop forward to a forward fold.
  • Inhale and lift up halfway and lengthen your spine.
  • Exhale and bow forward.
  • Inhale and stand all the way up and reach your arms up.
  • Exhale and bring your hands through heart center and down by your sides.
  • Continue for two more Sun Salutations and land in Downward-Facing Dog Pose. As you flow, honor and practice gratitude for the cycles and rhythms of your body throughout the year.

8. Low Lunge Pose

  • Step your right foot forward into a Low Lunge Pose.
  • Inhale and reach your arms up.
  • Exhale and twist to your right. Reach your right arm back and your left arm forward.
  • Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

9. Lizard Lunge Pose

  • Unwind and place your hands down to the earth.
  • Move your right foot over to the right.
  • Bring both hands inside of your right foot and come down to your elbows for Lizard Lunge Pose.
  • Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

10. Pigeon Pose

  • Move your right foot over toward your left hand and settle your right knee and hip down into Pigeon Pose.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
  • Move back into Downward Facing Dog Pose and repeat the Lunge Twist, Lizard Lunge, into Pigeon Pose sequence on the left side.
  • As you open your hips, honor and practice gratitude for the cycles and rhythms of your thoughts and emotions throughout the year. To get started, try to remember what you were thinking about, worried about, or looking forward to one year ago.

11. Bridge Pose and/or Wheel Pose

  • Come down onto your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
  • Push into your feet and lift your hips into Bridge Pose.
  • Roll your shoulder blades underneath you and bring your arms and hands closer together.
  • Press into your feet and lift your hips, chest, and chin.
  • Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
  • Lower yourself down and rest on your back for several breaths.
  • Repeat Bridge Pose or now lift up into Wheel Pose.
  • Bend your knees and bring your feet flat to the floor.
  • Bring your hands under your shoulders. Press into your hands and feet and lift your head and back up off the ground.
  • Work your arms toward straight. Press into your feet and pump your chest toward your hands.
  • Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
  • Lower yourself down and rest on your back for several breaths. As you practice these heart-opening poses, allow yourself to be open to whatever the year ahead may bring.

12. Supine Twist

  • Come onto your back and hug your knees into your chest.
  • Stretch your arms out and open to the sides.
  • Tip your knees over to the right side and come into a Supine Twist.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Repeat on the left side.
  • As you twist, imagine releasing anything you don’t wish to carry with you into this New Year: habits, people, and practices that no longer serve your highest good can be wrung out.

13. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

  • Extend your legs long and rest your arms down by your sides.
  • Settle in for a nice, long final rest in Savasana.
  • Allow your eyes to close and soften all parts of your body. Give yourself permission to release the effort of the yoga practice and to surrender into relaxation.
  • Enjoy for as long as you have time. Allow this pose to symbolize the release of the past year and openness to fresh, new beginnings in the New Year.

Journaling Session

This brief, soulful journaling practice is designed to create space for letting go of the past and highlighting intentions for the New Year. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a first-time journaler, this exercise will be beneficial.

Supplies needed:

  • Journal
  • Pen or pencil

Try It:

  • Set up your space for writing. Get out your supplies and turn your phone on silent.
  • Begin by setting a timer for five minutes.
  • Start with a free-writing exercise in which you simply write and write and write with no other agenda. See what comes up!
  • When the timer ends, put down your pen and take three deep breaths.
  • Then continue your journaling practice with the following prompts:
    • List 10 highlights from the past year.
    • List 10 challenges from the past year.
    • Consider what you’re letting go of and finish this sentence 10 times:
      • “I release … “
    • Consider what you’re inviting into your life for the year ahead and finish this sentence 10 times:
      • “I call in … “
  • Finish with another five-minute timed free-writing exercise to process anything that came up for you emotionally or mentally as you wrote.
  • Keep your journal nearby for the next piece of this practice. Look back on your written intentions often as the year begins.

Spiritual Ritual

This spiritual ritual is designed to create sacred space for releasing that which no longer serves you and inviting in positivity for the New Year. Whether you honor specific religious rites or dabble in the ethereal arts, putting together a ceremony to mark the New Year is a special practice.

Supplies needed:

  • Sage or palo santo
  • Candles
  • Crystals and stones
  • Essential oils
  • Flowers
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Tea
  • Oracle cards

Try It:

  • Set up your space by lighting candles, and setting up your crystals, stones, and other special items.
  • Arrange the flowers and make yourself a cup of tea.
  • Douse yourself with essential oils and find a comfortable seat.
  • Take your oracle cards and ask the universe, “What do I need to know for this coming year?”
  • Pull a 12-card spread from the oracle deck for the whole year or pull just a few for the messages you need.
  • Light the sage or palo santo and wave it lovingly over the deck for clarity and good luck.
  • Take the time to read the message on each card and write down anything that strikes you.
  • Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes for a seated meditation or trataka candle meditation.
  • Close your ceremony by speaking out loud any intentions you called in during your journaling activity.
  • Blow out the candles and clean up the sage before walking away.

Creating a dedicated practice for the start of the New Year is a beautiful self-care ritual. As you honor your body, mind, heart, and spirit through loving practices and intentions, you create a ripple effect of self-compassion, peace, harmony, and courage. When you show up as the best version of yourself for your family, friends, coworkers, and community, the world becomes a kinder place. And that’s a happier new year for all.


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About the Author
woman smiling in yoga pose

Lena Schmidt

Certified Yoga Instructor
Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world. Learn more about Lena at www.yoginilena.com The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within, and she’s passionate about sharing these tools with others. She is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and mindfulness and expression...Read more