Yogis love the New Year. It’s not that we love to party till 4am and then vomit on the neighbor’s front stoop, or sing Abba songs in a frighteningly loud bar as the timid January sun makes its way above the horizon. Most of us are actually in bed early on NYE, after some Indian chanting and a decaf chai. The reason yogis love the New Year is because of the resolutions. The ultimate goal of yoga is transformation, so what yoga devotee doesn’t love the opportunity to make a positive change? There is even a term in Sanskrit for a heartfelt resolution or intention: sankalpa.
You can make an intention or sankalpa around anything: your health, your money situation, your love life. So, on December 31, just after midnight, sitting around two tea light candles and a bundle of sage in my friend’s LA apartment, I made an intention for enthusiasm.
If you look up the etymology for the word “enthusiasm”, you’ll find that it originally meant “to be possessed by a god or a spirit.” Enthusiasm is the juice that waters the seeds of your future. If you’re enthusiastic, there’s nothing you can’t do. Enthusiasm can accomplish even the most arduous tasks. And if you’re truly enthusiastic, it almost doesn’t matter if you succeed. You’ll still have your enthusiasm, which may be even better than whatever you wanted to accomplish in the first place.
I’ll admit that I’m not naturally uber-enthusiastic (like most East Coasters). But that’s OK -- I just have to cultivate it, to call it in. If I keep my heart close to it, I think it will become me. And as I drove back up the coast on New Year’s Day, ogling the cobalt waves to my left and feeling the gentle forward motion of the car, I began to feel it. Not just happiness, but rich, pulsating, demonic enthusiasm. Complete and certain possession.
It seems that enthusiasm is in the air. In some ways, it’s easy to be enthusiastic about 2013 -- the Earth didn’t explode or combust or fly off its orbit on the winter solstice, so it’s already a damned good year. Locally, there’s a lot to get excited about in the coming weeks. The Yoga Journal conference is coming to town on the 18th, and there’s still time to buy tickets. Some of my favorite yoga brains will be teaching, like Gary Kraftsow and Kelly McGonigal. And there’s a host of transformational yoga workshops coming up (listed below) by wise and wonderful local teachers. Let yourself get possessed by something good.
And if you’re not feeling enthusiastic, not to worry. Life isn’t a cherry sundae every day. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle said that, if you want to live consciously, you have three attitudes you can take in any given situation: You can be enthusiastic, you can be joyful, or, if neither of those is possible, you can be accepting. So pick one. And definitely remember the last option if those big new year intentions don’t work out exactly as planned.
Top Picks for an Enthusiastic New Year
(Listings by Joanne Greenstein)
Where are you focusing your attention in 2013? Join Elena Brower, co-author of the book Art of Attention, to design your life and practice to become what you want it to be. The workshop includes meditation, asana and discussion.
Sat/12, 1:00 – 4:00pm, Urban Flow, 1543 Mission Street, San Francisco, $50 in advance/$55 day of.
Take your yoga into the kitchen. Designed for women looking to cleanse their systems and cultivate mindful, healthful eating habits that serve them, Darshana’s workshop covers everything from shopping to food preparation to food choices. The program includes in-person classes, an Ebook Manual, meal plans, recipes and an online support group.
Sat/12, 19 & 26, 1:15- 4:15pm Yoga Tree Hayes, 519 Hayes Street, San Francisco, $135
If winter’s gray skies and rain are bringing you down, let this workshop be the ray of light that pierces the clouds. Come learn asana, breathing and meditation techniques to help manage feelings of sadness, lethargy and depression.
Mon/14 6:00 – 8:00pm, Integral Yoga Institute, 770 Dolores Street, San Francisco, $20
Featuring over 50 asana, meditation and mindfulness teachers, this conference offers the opportunity to practice with some of the world’s most renowned yogis. There are workshops for every part of your body and corner of your mind, as well as an evening with Deepak Chopra, a bhangra dance party and a marketplace filled with yoga goodies. Don’t forget to check out the free, community events.
Thurs/17- Mond/21, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 5 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, price varies by program
Bring in 2013 with a yoga class set to live music, chanting, and the tools to sustain your New Year’s intentions.
Sun/20, 1:00-3:30pm, Yoga Kula San Francisco, 3030A 16th Street, San Francisco, $35
Karen Macklin is a yoga teacher and multi-genre writer in San Francisco. She's been up-dogging her way down the yogic path for over a decade, and is a lifelong lover of the word. To learn more about her teaching schedule and writing life, visit her site at www.karenmacklin.com. Follow On the Om Front on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ontheomfront