Each New Year brings new resolutions. Visit a gym, walk the hike and bike trail, or just come to a yoga class this month and you will see well-intentioned people doing their yearly resolutions. By March, however, many resolutions are often abandoned with the shameful regret like poor judgements when going out drinking with friends. But this year is different. This is the Year of Commitment. This is the year you get it together and discover the secret of happiness.

Welcome to 2015, the Year of Mastery.

Every year has a cosmological theme that is revealed through its numerological energy. Some yogis say that for 2015, the opportunity is optimal to achieve mastery in an area of your life. Mastery is an imposing word because it requires you to become greater than you are. No matter what you master, be it a relationship, a diet, a yoga pose, or even your destiny, you have to make a commitment. With commitment, all things are possible. Even the word “commitment” is revealing. It comes from the Latin “com” and “mittere” which literally means, “to put together”. When you have commitment, you put it all together.

On the other hand, the word “resolution” comes from the Latin “resolutio” which means, “to reduce things apart.” No wonder resolutions fall apart and commitments put us together! 

So if commitment is so great, why isn’t everyone doing it? The fear to commit comes from the mistaken belief that when we commit we lose our ability to choose something better. In reality, until we commit we have chosen nothing and we have nothing. Non-commitment preserves only the illusion of choice without any reward. From the very beginnings of yoga, the ability to commit was paramount to success. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali of nearly 2000 years ago, it was written:

“This practice of yoga is built, with devotion and commitment, over a lengthy time period.” (I, 14)

One of the reasons the ancient Yogis practiced yoga was to keep their bodies healthy and youthful so they would have the time to achieve mastery.

Perhaps the word “mastery” may intimidate you (even though this is the year for it!). Maybe you have just been doing yoga for a few weeks or a couple of years and mastery is not in your aspirations. Yet even the ability to achieve any long-lasting success in yoga requires the same commitment that eventually leads to mastery. The good news is that you can achieve commitment on the first day you decide to do it. And when you do commit, you feel a sense of relief and happiness. So what are the requirements to have a committed yoga practice (or relationship or anything in your life)?

The Yoga Sutras (I, 20) outline five personal commitments that are necessary to achieve success and mastery in yoga or in any endeavor:

  • Shraddha – Trust and confidence
  • Virya – Energy and will power
  • Smriti – Intention and mindfulness
  • Samadhi – Oneness and absorption
  • Prajna – Wisdom and discernment

Shraddha is a trust in yourself that you are moving in the right direction. It is a feeling of confidence in your intuition to guide you.

Virya is the positive energy that comes from exercising your will power. When you make the choice to move forward on your path, virya is the conviction that brings the power and strength to your commitment.

Smriti is maintaining a constant state of mindfulness about your choice and commitment. As you walk the path, it is holding on to your original intention behind your commitment, being a witness to your progress and mindful of the process.

Samadhi is remembering the Oneness behind your commitment and being absorbed in that union. It is allowing the commitment and the committer to become one and the same. The commitment then ceases being something you trying to do and becomes who you are.

Prajna is the wisdom of your Higher Self that comes from discrimination, meditation and self-study. The more you understand the nature of your own self, the easier it is to hold to your commitment.

Remember that mastery and commitment begin in steps. The steps can be small and modest at first. For example, coming to yoga class twice a week is a likely commitment for most people.

The only requirement is that you remain absolutely consistent and constant in your commitment, regardless of the step you take. If you commit to doing yoga twice a week, it is always twice a week. When you compromise, negotiate, or neglect a commitment for any reason, you will ultimately fail.

That is commitment. Life will always challenge us whenever we make a commitment. Without a test, the commitment cannot become strong. Watch when your commitment is challenged. It will tell you a lot about yourself and the ways you self-sabotage. Sick? Too busy? No money? Not in love anymore? Who cares? In the face of commitment, all excuses are self-abuses.

Compared to many things in life, a yoga practice is an easy commitment. Its rewards are immediate, rich and continuous. Your commitment to a yoga practice brings a change that permeates every area of your life. And it brings the opportunity for commitment in all aspects of your existence: relationships, career, health, and all things worthwhile. With commitment comes happiness. With commitment comes mastery. This is the year. 2015. The year of mastery and commitment.

Just do it.

“In every life you are meant to commit. That is why the word is commit-meant.” – Yogi Bhajan