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!
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
- 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 Stretchescat-0.jpgcow-0.jpg
- 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 Posedowndog-0.jpg
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
12. Supine Twist
- Come onto your back and hug your knees into your chest.
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.
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.
- Pen or pencil
- 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.
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.
- Sage or palo santo
- Crystals and stones
- Essential oils
- Pen or pencil
- Oracle cards
- 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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