This afternoon I taught a free class for the community to celebrate the new year. Last night I was rereading The Heart of Yoga and read “to receive that which is new (fresh energy), we must release what is old and no longer benefits us.” The more we release, the more we let go, the more we allow space for what is new and what will benefit us.
This sentence inspired my sequence for the new year’s class. In yoga, the exhale is one way we release that which is old, that which no longer benefits us, and the inhale can be considered what is new and fresh. In the beginning of class, I asked students to inhale for four counts and exhale for eight counts. Toward the end of class, I instructed them to practice a yoga therapy version of Nadi Shodhana, which tends to lengthen the exhale. I wanted them to release more so they could receive more. That was my intention for the class.
Today I asked friends and family, Did you set intentions for 2012? One woman told me that she writes a list of what she wants to release from 2011 and what she wants to receive from 2012. Then she burns the lists in the backyard and lights a candle and the candle remains lit throughout the night. There’s beauty in ritual.
I’m going to be chanting with a yoga friend from 11:30 p.m. until after midnight, which seems like the best way to end 2011 and bring in 2012. It’s the best way because in 2011, I committed to a yoga teacher training and finished in early December and the training changed my life. I completed a 20 hour weekend of yoga once a month for several months and along the way realized what about myself and what about my life I needed to release. Yoga has been described as a spiritual psychology and I see how that is true.
In any case, I’m not done with the release. What is old and no longer benefits me? There are several aspects of myself that I see in a clear light, not a harsh light but a clear one, and I know I have to let go of those parts of myself, too. This kind of clarity is humbling. Sometimes the release takes years.
I hope you celebrate the arrival of new year in a way that is best for you. I hope the celebration brings you joy. I wish you the best. I wish always the best for you.