I made two New Year's resolutions this year. The first was to do more yoga, which, technically, I have already achieved. I've taken 4 yoga classes so far in 2011, and I only took 1 in 2010! Seriously, though, on the awesome New Year's retreat I attended, I enjoyed the yoga classes and decided it needs to be a bigger part of my life. I've done yoga occasionally over the years, but it was never really my thing. After discussing it with a good friend who's also a yoga instructor, I realized that I just needed to find the right classes for me. And I'm happy to say I think I've done that!
My main goals are to gain flexibility and strength, and also to ground myself and decrease anxiety. I've been to yoga classes in the past that seemed sort of competitive and show-offy. To be honest, that probably only turned me off because I'm not super-advanced at yoga. I, too, can be competitive and show-offy when it comes to stuff I'm good at ;) I've found that I prefer the type of yoga where you spend a long time in one pose, gradually letting it deepen, as opposed to doing fancy combinations of several poses in a row. Therefore, I've started attending the "Restorative Yoga" and "Essential Yoga" classes at my gym. And, yeah, I'm usually the youngest person in the room, but I don't mind.
My other resolution was to continually strive to be kind and loving toward others. Sounds simple enough, but it can be a real challenge. I remember a line from a book I had as a kid, that said, "Be nice to the mean kids. They need it the most." I don't remember what book it was from, but it has stuck with me.
There's a vulnerability that comes with treating everyone kindly. They may not return your kindness. They may try to take advantage of you. Still, I've found the rewards to be much larger than the risks. When I think about the various things people have "taken" from me, or got away with because I was too trusting, they are very small in comparison to all the things others have given me, or shared with me. The generosity I've experienced from others is pretty amazing, when I think about it. Problem is, I don't always think about it. Sometimes I dwell on the negative treatment I've received from others.
Being vegan has opened my heart in ways I didn't anticipate. I started on my journey towards a vegan lifestyle two years ago, for health reasons. The health benefits have indeed been great, but there have been surprising effects on my soul. I feel that I don't place as many limits on my compassion now that, for example, I don't have to block out the plight of dairy cows to enjoy ice cream. Now, I know plenty of kind and compassionate people who are not vegetarians or vegans, and I realize that many of the choices I make, like filling up my gas tank, effect others negatively. But I think this particular lifestyle change has had a big influence on how I relate to both animals and people, and has helped me empathize and realize we're all in this together.
Here's to increasing the love, health and happiness in 2011!
P.S. The Russian approved of, and devoured, his birthday cake :)