Ah, 2017. What does it bring? Well a sigh of relief from many that 2016 is over. Regardless of what went on in your individual life (on a personal level I actually had a great year), most of us can agree that on the whole, 2016 was a pretty chaotic year filled with huge political and social shifts that potentially see the infrastructure of Western civilisation begin to decline. If anyone saw Charlie Brooker's 2016 Wipe on BBC2 (might still be on iplayer if you want to check it out), my favourite bit was when the Game of Thrones music was playing in the background of the Brexit news footage. Or was it the Trump vs Clinton footage? Either way, it's pretty easy to note the comparisons between fall of empires as our political systems seemingly begin to fall in in each other . . .
Why do I bring all this up? What's this got to do with yoga? Well, you see, yoga is about transformation. Sure, yoga can be used simply to stretch the body and create more ease. Yoga can be a way to calm us down, induce relaxation and help us feel sane once again. But yoga can also be used to transform us. Transform the way we think, the way we act, and the action we take.
Yes, taking action is what I am talking about. Known for teaching restorative yoga and yoga nidra mostly, you might not initially associate my style of teaching with action taking. Most of the time is spend on the floor, a lot of the time lying down, under a beautifully patterned blanket or two. With the intention to aid each individual to release and let go of tension in the mind, body and breath, all of this lying around could seem, well, a bit indulgent, right?
Wrong. It came to my attention last year that Rest Is Radical. This is a project I will be developing a lot more this year but basically the underlying value of the project is that without deep, deep rest on a personal level, we cannot begin to tackle some of the almightly problems facing our society, our health, our planet. We are exhausted - as individuals, and as a whole. The Mother Earth is straining to meet our constant demands. Women's health issues are in crisis, and we don't even realise.
Come to yoga to relax, and breathe fully and feel better - absolutely. But come to yoga regularly and know that you are being called. To take action, to be the best human being you can be. This could be in the guise of your role as a parent, a partner, a brother or sister, son or daughter, a friend or lover. Perhaps your work is your calling, your passion, your desire, and perhaps this calls you to immerse yourself fully without holding back due to fear, discouragement or a lack of self belief. Perhaps you need a whole year of getting your body out of fight or flight mode before you can even thinking of the word transformation without shaking.
Whatever you need to do, start doing it now. Learn how to rest. How to stop. How to be content. And use those lessons, those tools, as your armour as you step into 2017 perhaps with some fear, some trepidation, some dread, but with a deep sense of conviction that comes from being led by your intuition, your heart, your creativity, your soul.
Step forward and step up, and know that you are being held. That if you act in accordance with the purpose of your soul that you are being supported. And make sure you let yourself receive that support, however it manifests. Say thank you with a smile, be grateful, be kind and be patient. And remember this - you are a part of this universe. You matter. The people around you matter. This year matters. And if all else fails, remember the words of Margaret Mead:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."