Preping for 2016 by starting with some inner work by Nicholas Wai

Time flies and I can’t believe 2015 has gone by so quickly. It’s that time of the year again when you usually take stock of the past 360+ days and look forward to the next cycle. For me, my process started with a 21-day Path to Karma yoga course that got me to wake up early every morning for more than 2 weeks (I missed the first few days because of a business trip) and hit the mat at 7am on weekdays and 8:15am on weekends. I didn’t know what to expect and was too busy to think about it. I signed up because my girlfriend had and the course was led by one of my favourite yoga teachers in Hong Kong at the yoga centre I belong to. What I got out of it was unexpected but definitely what I needed at this point in time!

I have always known that I am a morning person but getting up at 5:30am in the Hong Kong winter was still a bit daunting for me at first. Nevertheless, what the experience taught me was it’s definitely doable: given enough will in the beginning, persistence along the way, and going to bed early enough so I would have a decent sleep at night.

Afterall we are animals of habits and if we allow ourselves, new ones can be built.

Another benefit I received was the ability to hold ‘longer breaths’. We started each day with a slow and long sequence of a few poses - this not only helped to wake and warm us up – it also taught us to get used to doing slower and longer breaths. Only after a few days I found that I could prolong a sequence from 5 minutes, when I first started, to 20 minutes. By prolonging my breaths and deepening it tobelow my navel I gained a new found appreciation and enjoyment in taking my time and savouring each moment and movement, which tended to get lost in the hectic life in the city. And as a bonus, I also found that I could sing better, in terms of more stamina and ability to holding notes longer, which came in handy as I practiced and sang in my A Capella group and my alumni choir.

Thirdly, I experienced change in a more personal and heart-felt way. I found that just by allowing myself to try, taking little steps one at a time, and making small improvements every day, I was able to take on poses like the crow or headstand which I thought were impossible before. I am not there yet but with practicing and improving a bit every day I have definitely got closer.

The Crow

The Head Stand

What this experience taught me was things that seemed daunting were actually not impossible and we were often our greatest obstacle.

Thirdly, I experienced change in a more personal and heart-felt way. I found that just by allowing myself to try, taking little steps one at a time, and making small improvements every day, I was able to take on poses like the crow or headstand which I thought were impossible before. I am not there yet but with practicing and improving a bit every day I have definitely got closer.

What this experience taught me was things that seemed daunting were actually not impossible and we were often our greatest obstacle.

Finally, and most importantly during these 21 days, the practice helped cleared my mind and energy, and made me realised that one of the greatest obstacle I have been unconsciously practicing has been not saying NO to things that do not honour my values and dreams. I have managed to keep peace in my relationships by doing this, but sacrificed my true self and freedom, and created unnecessary stress, anger, and a negative energy drain, which I can feel so strongly as I write this.

This is profound for me.

I know this about myself but it did not hit home this hard until now.

Recognising this now, my resolution for 2016 would be to start with writing down my most important values and what I truly want in life. I would also create a mantra for myself to love and accept all of me - to build up strength so I would be strong and confident enough to say no when I truly should. With this I look forward to 2016 to be a year of purpose and truth.

  • How will better breathing help you?
  • How are you standing in your own way?
  • How are you being true to yourself? And how are you not?
  • How would you like your 2016 to be like? What would you commit to try to realise this?