I went into this workshop prepared to grind out a grueling, sweaty work out.  However, this gathering was much more special than I expected.  It was a sacred oath we all took to better the world around us by first grounding, accepting, and loving ourselves.

Celebrating the New Year, we began by writing down some problems or attachments we wanted to let go of from 2013.  Lots of things came up:  anger, resentment, unhealthy habits, being a perfectionist, negative outlooks, attachment to money, worrying about the future, toxic relationships, and other issues we all suffer from.  We gathered our mats in a circle, and read aloud what we wanted to release. Then we crumpled up the paper and put it in a jar at the center of the circle.

Next we shared in turn what we wanted to bring in to our lives this year.  The energy of the room boomed with positivity as we read aloud our goals: forgiveness, joy, health, contentment, peace, prosperity, love, and more things we all wish we could incorporate into daily life.  As we shared, we each lit a candle and set it in the middle of the circle as a reminder of the light we were bringing in, as well as the troubles we were burning away. Each flame was a light to look upon for strength during the 108 salutations.

We were to do 9 sets of 12 Sun Salutations.  For each set, we were read a positive affirmation and would repeat a corresponding mantra at the beginning of each salute.  These would keep us steady, focused, and unified as we were guided through the moving meditation. The mantras were as follows

1. My energy is centered grounded and focused!
2. I am courageous!
3. I am grateful to be living!
4. I choose to be happy!
5.  As I give, I receive!
6.  My heart is always open and I radiate love!
7.  I accept all of me!
8.  I forgive and I release!
9.  I am responsible for my thoughts, words, actions, and results!

I cannot express how powerful it was to be in a room of people proactively becoming more courageous, open, and joyful as the practice progressed.  As a community we were building firmer foundations to stand on.  With each mantra the words became true.  As our legs and arms tired, our minds stayed strong. We could draw upon the small but bright flame in front of us, and the positive energy of our neighbors to keep going. We would make it to 108 no matter what.

Before I knew it, we were on our last salutation.  Thighs burning, hamstrings stretched taut, mat drenched, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and confidence surge through me.  We were given one final mantra:  I EMBRACE THE NOW IN 2014! As I looked about the room I saw a circle of empowered souls.  We had come in with baggage, frustration, and expectations from previous years, but we left completely free, light, and content. We were not only excited about a brighter future; we were excited about a brighter now.
As this year speeds forward I hope that we will all leave behind our attachments and expectations as we realize that everything we need is already within us.  We just have to let go of everything else.

by Brynne Heatley

Our group after welcoming in the New Year.

Our group after welcoming in the New Year.