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.


9 Things Yogis Can Do to Prepare for a Good Night's Sleep

9 Things Yogis Can Do to Prepare for a Good Night's Sleep

Making sleep a priority is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. By making sure you get enough good quality sleep every night, you not only set yourself up for a great next day, but a long and healthy life too.

Whether you’re an aspiring yogi, a beginner yogi, an intermediate yogi, or even an advanced yogi, you can take advantage of the following tips to improve your sleep naturally.

 

1. Refrain from Stimulating Devices and Activities

The earlier in the evening that you can turn off the TV, put your smartphone away, stop working, or finish any vigorous exercise, the better! Plan to do this an hour before turning in at the very least.

 

2. Snack on Sleep-Friendly Foods

If you’re hungry before bed, light snack can actually help you sleep better. Go for complex carbohydrates combined with lean protein that ideally contains the amino acids tryptophan (such as chicken/turkey breast, tuna, cheese, nuts, seeds, and beans). Tryptophan is known to boost serotonin levels, which helps promote sleep.

 

3. Darken Your Environment

You don’t have to sit around in a pitch dark room, but less light will certainly help your body adjust and get the signal to prepare for sleep. Instead of simply dimming the lights, try lighting some candles for enhanced relaxation.

 

4. Listen to Soothing Music or Sounds

Classical, ambient, and smooth jazz are perfect music genres for winding down. Alternatively, you could try listening to some sound effects like ocean waves, rain, thunderstorms, birds, or frogs to help you get in touch with nature.

 

5. Mindfully Prep for the Night and Next Day

Without any stimulating devices or activities to indulge in before bed, you can take the extra time you have to carry out your evening routine and plan for tomorrow. Take a relaxing bath, moisturize your entire body, brush your teeth extra well, pick out what you want to wear, make your lunch, and do whatever else you need to do while practicing mindfulness.

 

6. Do a Bit of Journaling

The evening is the perfect time to do a bit of a mind dump through writing. Grab your journal and and a pen to write what simply comes to mind. You may wish to reflect on your day, write about how you feel, or plan for what you want to do tomorrow.

 

7. Lower the Thermostat (Or Crack a Window)

Cooler body temperatures help promote sleep, so set your thermostat to adjust the temperature to somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the hours you plan to sleep. During slightly warmer weather in the spring, summer, and autumn months, you can even leave the window open.

 

8. Settle Your Mind With Aromatherapy

Essential oils have natural healing properties that can relax the mind and help you prepare for sleep. Whether you choose to gently inhale the aromas or put a few drops on your pillow is completely up to you. Here are seven essential oils known to have calm and soothing effect on the mind.

 

9. Get in Touch With Your Breath and Body

Last but not least, don’t forget about the practice of yoga itself to help you sleep. Poses like legs up the wall, supine spinal twist, reclining goddess pose, child’s pose, and happy baby are just a few to consider trying—many of which you can do directly in bed. If meditation is a better alternative for you in the evening hours, try these three deep breathing techniques to calm your mind and body in preparation for sleep.


6 Mindfulness Tips for Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You

6 Mindfulness Tips for Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You

To reestablish a sense of balance in your life, letting go of all those bad habits you’ve picked up over the past year (or possibly years) is the only way to make more room for all the good things you know you should be embracing.

Look toward Mother Nature this autumn season to find inspiration in everything that retreats inward, falls to the ground, and dies. It’s not the end—just the opposite, in fact.

To facilitate the opportunity a new beginning, you must learn to let go. Here’s how.

 

1. Notice Activities and Behaviors That Make You Feel Good

The real key to creating good habits lies in taking notice of how good you feel when you do something or behave in a particular way. Note that this doesn’t mean it won’t also feel challenging—it can still feel good while part of you resists it.

Don’t ignore your resistance, but be sure to place your awareness on the good. The more you do this, the more naturally inclined you’ll feel to start making your new good activity or behavior a regular part of your life.

 

2. Notice Activities and Behaviours That Make You Feel Bad

Similar to building good habits, the key to breaking bad habits also lies in your awareness. Whether it’s smoking, eating junk food, watching TV, procrastinating, or any other bad habit—you don’t necessarily need to force yourself to stop it as long as you commit to being fully aware of what you’re doing, while you’re doing it.

Awareness alone is enough to motivate you to make the choice to stop doing it—because awareness shows you how harmful or unproductive it really is. Likewise, notice your tendency to want to cling to your old bad habit, as if wanting to escape yourself.

 

3. Journal About Both the Good and the Bad

At the beginning of your day, ideally first thing in the morning, take some time to journal about the person you want to be. The activities and behaviors that make you feel good are what will get you there.

At the end of your day, reflect on your day by journaling about the activities and behaviours that made you feel good and not so good. Doing this right before bed will help reprogram your subconscious as you sleep so you can do better the next day.

 

4. Visualize Yourself Growing from Embracing the Good

You can do this anytime, but just like journaling, visualization can often be most powerful first thing in the morning or right before going to bed. Simply close your eyes and picture what your life will be like if you kept doing all those good activities and kept embodying all those good behaviors weeks, months, and years from now.

Visualizing the effects of all those good things can motivate you to keep pressing on, even when times get tough. When you know great things are to come of it, you won’t want to give up.

 

5. Visualize the Freedom You’ll Achieve from Letting Go of the Bad

You could certainly visualize what your life might look like if you kept holding onto all those bad habits, but psychology research has shown that negative motivation rarely ever produces long-term results. While it can help you avoid unwanted effects in the short-term, long-term success relies on focusing on what you do want—not what you don’t want.

So visualize how much better your life will be weeks, months, and years from now without all those bad habits. Imagine the freedom, the happiness, and the potential for growth. This is all you need.

 

6. Practice Self-Compassion When You Slip Up

Mindfulness is simple, but it’s hard to keep up all the time. Most people find it impossible to kick a bad habit overnight, and you shouldn’t expect perfection.

Be kind to yourself when you fall back into your old ways. Simply take notice of what you’re doing, forgive yourself, and do your best to act or behave positively in the present.