By Melissa Lesic

The start of every new year brings a promise of a clean slate and new beginnings, and so many people resolve to change something in their lives. Among the most common resolutions are losing weight, becoming fit and getting healthy.

It’s understandable why the tradition of New Year’s resolutions is to commit to achieving one of these outcomes. We’ve had a lifetime of exposure to body policing messages from commercial interests telling us their products, diet or fitness regimes will give us the best results. We’re showered with pseudoscientific jargon and fear mongering telling us to “detoxify” and “cleanse.” We’re told to take supplements. We’re told to take pharmaceuticals, and we’re told to not take pharmaceuticals. We’re told to get healthy, with the word “health” often used to replace “weight-loss.”

This year, let’s aim to be mindful about what it means to get healthier. Let’s trade in these self-loathing, results-oriented resolutions and resolve to adopt habits that we enjoy and make us happy. If your resolution is to practice more yoga, set a conscious intention to get on your mat as often as possible, even for a short period of time.

As Ashtanga yoga guru Pattabhi Jois said, “Do your practice and all is coming.” We practice not with a specific goal in mind but because it opens us to everything.

Yoga is not results-oriented. Sometimes you get results, but if you don’t, that’s okay too because the journey should be joyful in and of itself.

When trying to adopt a new habit, getting started is often half the battle, so consider aiming for frequency over duration. Most of us can find 10 minutes in the morning or before bed to move through a few postures, even if it’s just cat and cow, plus savasana or seated meditation. By setting the bar relatively low in relation to what you think you “should” do, you will work towards achieving consistency and a more sustainable practice.

With a consistent practice, you’ll train your mind to be in the present moment, which can increase your engagement with life in innumerable ways. As you become more aware of the mind’s tendency to focus on the past or anticipate the future, you can cultivate the skill of being present. You may find that this strengthens your connection with your significant other, family and friends, and yourself. You may also find yourself better aware of your emotional triggers that lead you to binge eat or engage in compulsive sedentary activities such as excessive use of social media or TV watching. As a result, your yoga practice may lead you to increased physical fitness and/or weight reduction, but you’ll view this as one of many welcome side benefits.

Melissa Lesic has been calling Toronto home since 2008, and it was soon after moving to the city that she found yoga. After discovering its positive effects on her mind and body, she enrolled in a 200-hour hatha and vinyasa certification. Melissa brings a unique style to her classes, filling them with creative sequencing and emphasis on strength, flexibility, balance, and self-awareness.  View her teaching schedule and sign up for a class!