Put Your Yoga into Practice: 3 Ways to Create a Brighter Future in 2021
This year has been one for the history books. It’s been a year of extreme sadness, loss, and despair. Across the globe, millions have fallen sick, and more than a million have been lost. Lives have been uprooted from familial death, financial loss, border closures, and beyond.
As horrific as this year has been, it has undoubtedly been an incredible teacher. This year has taught us to sit with ourselves and our discomfort. It has forced us to slow down and even stop completely. It has shown us what truly matters and what does not.
Through questioning our livelihoods, our relationships, and our very morals, we—as a society—have changed. Whether we like it or not, 2020 has changed the course of history and the future of our world, and there is no turning back.
But if we carefully consider the lessons we’ve learned this year and the experiences we’ve had, we may be able to look at the future with a much brighter lens. As we look forward to a new dawn, a new age, and a new year, 2021 symbolizes hope and redemption.
We can harness this hope by tapping into our beloved yoga practice.
How to Create a Brighter Future with 3 Yogic Practices
Our practice guides us through the ups and downs of life. And the principles of yogic philosophy ring truer now than ever before. These three ways to create a brighter future are simple, but they have the power to create real change.
1. Practice Seva
The anthropologist Margaret Mead once was asked what she considered to be the first sign of civilization. Her surprising answer was a broken (and healed) femur bone that was found in an archeological site dating back about 15,000 years.
She went on to explain that, in the animal kingdom, a broken bone is a death sentence. No animal can survive an injury of this magnitude long enough for the bone to heal. However, that discovery in the archeological site showed that in human society, others selflessly cared for the injured.
Seva, or selfless service, is a principle of yogic practice. Historically, it was a way to erase bad karma and to perpetuate good karma. But it is far more than just that. Compassion, empathy, and selfless service are tenets of basic humanity.
2020 has been a year of immense suffering and hardship for so many on our planet. To help make the future brighter, we must selflessly offer our services to others to overcome all of this hardship.
Volunteer at your local food bank, donate to those less fortunate or give time to simply listen to a friend’s concerns. Give in any way that you are able to in order to selflessly serve those around you.
Small acts add up and, if practiced on a global scale, small acts can and will create real impact.
2. Surrender to the Absolute
We don’t often recognize it, but we are all constantly at the mercy of Mother Nature. Despite the fact that we like to pretend that we are in control of our everyday lives, we are not.
An asteroid could hit at any moment and completely change life as we know it on planet Earth. A volcanic eruption could be the catalyst for a drastically changing atmosphere that could suffocate us all. An unpredictable tsunami could plunge us into the depths of the ocean in an instant. A global pandemic could keep us isolated and locked indoors for a year.
As clever as we are as a species, we are only a small part of this unbelievably diverse and magical world that we live in. We do not control the tides of the sea and we do not control the whims of Mother Earth. There is a greater power that exists.
The ancient yogis understood this and encouraged ishvara pranidhana: surrender to the Absolute.
As we look forward to a brighter future in the coming year, perhaps we should enter the new age with a bit more humility, a bit more wonder, and a lot more faith. Magic surrounds us on every corner in this unique world that is perfectly acclimated for life. As humans, perhaps we should acknowledge this more often.
And perhaps, we should humbly bow our heads to the Absolute that surrounds and encompasses us, and surrender completely to the will of the universe. After all, we don’t actually have much of a say in the matter, so we might as well acknowledge and accept that.
Leo Tolstoy famously wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Without a doubt, there is no better way to affect positive change in the world than by starting at your own front door.
Sit with yourself and your thoughts. Process the grief, heartache, disappointment, and fear that you’ve been sitting with for the past year. Digest all of the emotions you’ve been feeling. Listen to your own mind. Experience the healing power of acceptance.
Process and accept everything that has happened over the course of 2020 so that you’re able to effectively move forward into 2021.
As the Dalai Lama so accurately says, “If every eight year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
So experience the enormous power of meditation for yourself. And know that this tool is at your disposal anytime you need it—during both the good times and the bad.
Cheers to a New Dawn and a Brighter Future Ahead!
Despite its unbearable hardships, 2020 has been a year of great learning. And we can all emerge from this with greater knowledge and wisdom.
As you look forward to a brighter future in the year to come, put your yoga into practice to make the world a slightly more optimistic place.
Here’s to being armed with greater wisdom to face a brighter year ahead!
Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.