Resolutions and yoga for the New Year

with Marion Thornley


Marian Thornley


New Year and time for those resolutions again. I make some every year, but by the end of January can never remember what they were! In fact, the New Year resolution is much the same as the affirmation we make as part of yoga nidra, which is a very powerful tool for self transformation. At the start of yoga nidra the teacher usually reminds us to couch our affirmation in positive language; that is, something that WILL happen, not maybe or something that won’t happen. This positive thinking is an important part of the yogic message; in its various ways, yoga teaches us to look at the world in a more positive way. The old addage is very true, as we think so we become.

In the yoga sutras, Patanjali teaches us to look at every situation we enounter in life in a holistic way. Often, when faced with challenging times we focus on that part of the circumstance that is negative. But even the most difficult of times have a tiny part that is positive – you might have to rack your brains to find it, but it is always there! I always admire those people who have encountered tragedy in their lives but turned it into something for the benefit of others.

A useful exercise is to picture your situation and to write down one thing about it that is positive. Think a bit longer and you may find that you end up with a long list of positives. The more you practice this the more it becomes a routine part of the way your brain conducts its business, and you will find your outlook on life becoming more optimistic.

Other yoga tools also help us to cultivate this spirit. Asanas (yoga postures) that encourage us to open our chests and take deeper breaths tend to have this life-affirming effect if practiced regularly. For example, start by standing in a stable position. As you breathe in raise the arms above the head and look up towards your hands. Exhale and lower. Repeat this exercise several times daily, being conscious of opening the lungs and inhaling deeply. This and other back bending exercises will have the effect of increasing confidence, optimism and a willingness to engage with the world. But always remember that if you are not experienced in yoga or physical exercise, you should not undertake any strenuous postures at home without the guidance of a teacher.

Marian teaches yoga in Ceret and is particularly interested in the use of yoga as a tool for health and healing. For more information contact Marian on or see her website at

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