This time of year is about contemplation; looking inward and reflecting on the growth, the challenges, and the shifts that have shaped the past year. That can be difficult, especially in a year that had so much turbulence and fueled emotion. Yoga and meditation offer us tools to heal some of those intense feelings that arise, and to facilitate a conscious release of them. With that sense of surrender, a new intention may reveal itself for the new year so that we can be guided to live our lives with a true purpose and connection to spirit. Here are some helpful yoga and meditation tips to help you let go of the old and bring in the new:
- Kappala bhati: this is often known as breath of fire and involves short, sharp exhalations through the nostrils. The inhale happens naturally. It is detoxifying and helps rid the lungs of stale oxygen by pumping the belly in and forcing the diaphragm up. Try 9-18 breaths per round.
- Lion's breath: the name pretty much sums this one up. Take a deep breath in through the nose. As you exhale, open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue as far as it will go and make a loud sound, like the hiss of a lion. This breath actually helps get rid of toxins that collect on the tongue and energetically facilitates a "letting go," which naturally happens during the exhalation.
- Spinal Twists: Physiologically, twists have a "rinse and soak" action, meaning as we move into the twist certain organs get compressed, flushing out toxins and metabolic waste. As we come out of the twist fresh blood flows back in, literally ringing out the old and bringing in the new.
- Forward bends: When we bend forward at the hips - either standing or seated - we are energetically letting go in order to move forward. The exhalation, which is the part of the breath that relates to letting go, aids in moving deeper in the posture. Forward bends also open the back of the body which relates to introspection and self-reflection.
- Sat Yam meditation: This is a meditation on letting go of a pattern, thought, relationship, or circumstance that you are aware of, have looked at, and that is no longer serving you. In a comfortable, seated position, visualize at the base of your spine any of these awarenesses that you may have been clinging to. As you breathe in, feel the awareness move up the spine, through the heart center, to the crown of the head. As you breathe out, release that awareness out through the crown of the head back into the universal field of consciousness. On the inhalation, silently hear the sound "Sat" for purification. On the exhale, vibrate "Yam" for emotional intelligence. Repeat this 6-8 times or as much as needed until you are able to sit quietly for several moments in meditation.