5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Reflect on the Past Year

5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Reflect on the Past Year

As the end of the year draws closer, all of us yogis could really benefit from doing some serious reflective work on what we experienced over the past 12 months to help move us forward into the New Year.

By doing this work, we allow ourselves to grow. We leave what no longer serves us behind and embrace what we know is right for the future.

To start your end-of-year refection, you’ll need a few things:

  • A quiet, comfortable space where you can sit down and be uninterrupted for at least an hour (or longer if you choose)
  • Your journal or a few blank pages of lined paper
  • A pen or pencil
  • A glass of water or cup of herbal tea (optional)
  • A candle or aromatherapy diffuser (optional)
  • Some classical or ambient music (optional)

You're going to sit down and write as much as you can as you ask yourself the following five questions. Be as detailed as possible and don’t worry about spelling mistakes, grammar, conflicting thoughts, or mixed emotions—just start writing as the words come to you and don’t stop until nothing else comes to you.

 

1. Which areas of my life did I focus most of my energy on?

Sometimes we find ourselves wondering why certain areas of our lives are lacking, which is why it can be so eye-opening to get honest about where we’ve truly been focusing our energy. This is where we find our answers. For example, if you spent the past year wondering why your love life hasn't been very exciting, getting honest with yourself and becoming aware of the fact that you spent most of your time developing other areas (such as perhaps your health and fitness, or growing your career) can help you get started with shifting your priorities in the New Year.

 

2. What were some of the experiences that brought me the most happiness?

Think back through each month carefully and consider everything from big achievements to smaller, special moments. Refer to your previous journal entries if you regularly wrote in it over the past year. Those happy experiences that stick out the most to you are big hints at what you need to keep doing, do again, or build upon in the New Year.

 

3. What were some of my biggest struggles?

It’s easy to reflect upon happy times over the past year, but it's a different story for those experiences that left you feeling sad, rejected, humiliated, angered, hurt, emotionally out of control, lost, or scared, Those experiences, however, hold the key to some of the biggest lessons you’ll learn about yourself and about life. Acknowledge them, process them if you haven’t done so yet, forgive whoever needs to be forgiven (including yourself), make peace with them, and extract the important lesson you learned from them.

 

4. What habits and behaviors did I do that I want to leave behind?

We all have bad habits and behaviors we wish we could drop. Bad habits flourish when we’re operating at a low-conscious level, so the more aware you can make yourself of these bad habits, the greater the chance of success you’ll have at eliminating them for good. Even if you tried to drop a bad habit this past year but didn’t succeed, be compassionate toward it i yourself and explore your experiences with it. If something didn’t work, you know what you need to do—change it up or try something else.

 

5. What habits and behaviors did I do that I want to continue doing?

It’s just as important to take stock of the good habits and behaviours as it is of the bad ones, because the good ones are the ones you’ll want to focus more of your energy on in the New Year. These are the habits that move you closer to a greater sense of happiness, peace, and purpose. Whether you started taking yoga classes consistently or challenged yourself to be a little more mindful of your spending habits, make sure you write about the positive effects of those habits so that you became more aware of just how much they’re helping you grow.


5 Eco-Friendly, Nature-Inspired Holiday Decoration Ideas

5 Eco-Friendly, Nature-Inspired Holiday Decoration Ideas

Whether you’re a yogi who celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, or any other December holiday or tradition, taking inspiration from nature for your decor is an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to celebrate.

If you have a little extra time and a crafty DIY side, making your own decorations from wood, pinecones, moss, leaves, acorns, berries and other pieces of nature can be a fun and rewarding experience—especially if you have kids who’d like to get involved.

Our Yogi Surprise members will be receiving two special decorative gifts in their December Lifestyle boxes, but here are a few more decorative ideas for our members and Yogi Journal readers who really want to get into the holiday spirit!

 

Golden Tree Branches

 

Image via Culturescribe

 

Go out into the woods and look for branches that have already fallen to the ground (to avoid having to break any off of the trees). Mediums-sized branches with a long end and several smaller branches at the top are ideal.

Get some non-toxic gold (or even silver) paint and spray them or use a brush to give them a shiny holiday look. Simply add them to a vase and you’re done!

 

Cranberry and Rosemary Mason Jar Centerpieces

 

Image via Damask & Dentelle

 

Got a few mason jars around your home? They’ll make perfect centerpieces for when you have to entertain guests!

Fill them up with water, add several sprigs of rosemary and then drop a bunch of fresh cranberries into them before adding an all-natural floating candle on top. These make simple, yet festive centerpieces that are not only colourful but also very rustic looking.

 

Painted Pinecone Wreath

 

 

Real evergreen wreaths are lovely, but they certainly don’t last. If you know a pine tree or two that have shed all their pinecones for the season, gather them up and use them to make your own unique pinecone wreath.

Paint them in whichever colors you like before arranging and attaching them to a wire wreath frame. The blue one above would make a perfect decoration for celebrating Hanukkah or the winter season.

 

Glass Ball Ornament Terrarium

 

Image via Couleur Nature

 

Put a creative spin on traditional Christmas ball ornaments by getting clear glass ones and filling them with bits of nature. Glass is ideal because it’s a much more eco-friendly material, but if you have kids or pets, plastic ones might be safer.

Add soil, moss, twigs, plants and an optional ribbon for the top. Here are some detailed instructions for how to go about making your own!

 

Gold Dipped Acorns

 

Image via Housely

 

Acorns typically fall from oak trees throughout the autumn season, so if you know of one in your area, now might be a good time to go collect a few (if the squirrels haven’t already, of course).

Paint or dip the ends in gold or silver paint, leaving the tops bare. Tie some string or ribbon to the stems to hang them as cute little tree ornaments or simply place them in a bowl or glass vase as a centerpiece.


Win an 8 Day, 7 Night Cambodia Yoga Retreat in Southern Cambodia

Win an 8 Day, 7 Night Cambodia Yoga Retreat in Southern Cambodia

On the other side of the world in Southeast Asia, a serene getaway awaits. Cambodia is known for its Khmer culture, lush jungle landscapes, and white sand beaches—making it a prime travel destination for yogis wanting to depend their practice and regular folks looking to satisfy their sense of wanderlust.

This December, we’ve teamed up with yoga ambassadors and retreat hosts Pierce Doerr and Rachel Sherron to give one of our lucky Yogi Surprise members a spot in their 8 day, 7 night Cambodia Yoga Retreat scheduled to take place in early March of 2018 (a $1,000 value). Our retreat winner will get to experience the beautiful natural surroundings and rich culture of southern Cambodia for a full week before returning home as a completely changed and rejuvenated yogi.

 

 

This retreat will be held at Les Manguiers—a small, family-run resort right outside of the small fishing and tourist town of Kampot where the river meets the ocean. The resort features comfortable lodging including bungalows and traditional Khmer housing that look out onto the Bokor National Park for a stunning view of the mountains, jungle vegetation, and riverside.

Enjoy daily yoga and meditation sessions surrounded by natural beauty, relax in one of the resort hammocks, or go for a swim in the salty river waters. Have your meals at the edge of the river as you enjoy the view of the mountains and fishing boats that pass by, or go out into the village where you can check out local markets, visit one of the Buddhist temples, or embark on a tourist excursion.

 

 

Here’s what’s included in this amazing retreat:

  • 7 nights in shared double accommodation (rooms are not air conditioned, but are equipped with fans and cool down quite a lot at night)
  • Daily yoga and meditation classes with Pierce and Rachel
  • 3 meals a day including breakfast, lunch, and dinner consisting of fresh Cambodian and French inspired cuisine
  • Filtered drinking water
  • Free wireless internet access in communal areas
  • River kayaking
  • Bicycles for going into the local village and town
  • Activities including ping pong, foosball, soccer, tree swinging, board games, and more
  • Guidance and advice from Pierce about the places, experiences, activities, and more based on insights gathered from 4 previous trips to the location

Flight and airport transportation are not included, but taxis can be arranged for pickup. Any additional food or drinks separate from daily meals are also available for an extra charge.

 

 

You’ll be asked to bring:

  • Your current valid passport
  • At least two passport size photos for immigration
  • $30 USD for Visa on Arrival fee
  • Your yoga mat and any props you want to use
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Appropriate clothing for warm weather expected between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (such as shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits for the resort and tourist activities)
  • Appropriate clothing for cultural activities outside of the resort (such as long pants and shirts that cover the shoulders if you decide to visit one of the temples in the area)
  • Bug spray, sunscreen, and a hat to protect you from the sun

This Cambodia Yoga Retreat will take place March 4th to 11th, 2018. Don’t miss your chance to win! Click on the link below to find out how you can enter this incredible retreat.

 

Win This Retreat >

 


Peace and Seva

Peace and Seva

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” —Mahatma Gandhi

The sunlight has diminished, the weather is cold, and the holiday season is upon us. December marks a special time of year for celebration and reflection—not just for those of us who practice yoga, but for everybody.

It’s a time to recognize what we have, harness our gratitude, and let it inspire us to give selflessly. The Sanskrit word “seva” encompasses this beautifully.

 

The Meaning of Seva

“Seva” roughly translates to “selfless service,” or voluntary action taken without any thought or expectation of a reward in return. Although serving others selflessly causes everyone to benefit, it is always performed without any hope or goal of a specific outcome to be experienced by the individual performing it.

In yoga, we move through asanas to transform our physical bodies. However, when we go beyond the mat by performing seva in as part of our way of life, we develop our sense of spirituality in a way that has the power to transform our personalities.

Seva can help us become more aware of bad habits and behaviors that only serve our egos. The more aware we are of our egos, the greater opportunity we have to choose to be able to act and behave in ways that benefit the community and environment as a whole—not just ourselves alone.

 

Finding Peace in the Season

December is often a busy month for most people, but with a little extra prioritization, we can all take some time out of our hectic schedules to slow down and reconnect with the true nature of reality so that we may feel inspired to perform seva. It’s as simple as waking up 10 minutes earlier or staying up 10 minutes later than usual to go spend some time in solitude.

Staring out the window as the snow falls, going for a winter walk in the quiet and stillness of the woods, sitting down to meditate, journaling about the past year, or taking a warm bath with some calming aromatherapy essential oils are all great ways to reestablish a sense of peace and acceptance of everything as it is in the moment.

It is our sense of peace that will lead us to seva. When we feel at peace with ourselves and the state of reality, we’re much more likely to act in ways that benefit everyone as opposed to getting caught up in our own agendas.

 

Consciously Choosing Seva

Choosing seva is challenging, but worth it. In a world where we are conditioned right from birth to develop our egos, choosing to put others before ourselves can feel like going against our very own instincts.

This is why it’s important to start small. Hold the door open for a stranger, buy your coworker a coffee, send a personalized video message to a Facebook friend to wish them a happy holiday season, or offer to shovel your elderly neighbour’s driveway for free.

Most importantly, do it because it will make others feel good. You’ll feel good too as a result of making them feel good.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Yogi Surprise!