Updated: Dec 3, 2019
A few years ago I made a radical New Year’s resolution – I would QUIT making resolutions at the New Year. Let me clarify – I didn’t give up on creating positive changes in my life, nor did I quit making goals for myself, but after much study of human nature, including ayurveda, I realized that trying to make sweeping lifestyle changes in January is nuts (oh, and by the way, it often fails miserably). I’m fairly certain that NONE of my New Year’s Resolutions were ever actually very successful – except perhaps the year I resolved to eat more chocolate, but that’s a different blog topic. When I looked at why my resolutions weren’t successful, I realized that I was working in opposition to my natural tendencies. Ayurveda describes how human nature interacts with the cycles of the seasons. There are many repercussions from seasonal changes, but I was intrigued by the effects of the seasons on creating and sustaining positive lifestyle changes. In particular, why were my New Year’s resolutions always spectacular failures?
Each of the doshas* are related to a season. Fall and early winter are associated with Vata dosha, Kapha dosha is highest during late winter and early spring, and Pitta dosha is at its peak during summer. If you study the basic qualities of the doshas, you can extrapolate that during fall and early winter you will have great enthusiasm and many ideas for change due to high vata – but may lack the follow-through to actually implement and sustain change. In the winter, kapha dosha will be hard to get going. New routines are going to be difficult, as the natural tendency is going to be to stick with the “status quo.” In late spring and summer, the transformative nature of Pitta dosha will help you make plans, implement change and meet your goals. Once you’ve established the new routines, in fall vata will help you keep it fresh by bringing in new ideas and the staying power of kapha will make sure you stick with your new endeavors through the winter.
So, January is a great time to look back over the past year and assess what changes you’d like to manifest over the coming year. Take the quiet winter months to study – think about what you’d like to do, research the options and recommit to the positive changes you’ve already implemented in your life. Resist taking on major new endeavors. In spring use the ideas and information you gathered during the winter months to create goals and a plan. Take the first steps to set your plan into motion in late spring and early summer and they will have a much higher success rate! Not only will you have spent time setting realistic, achievable, well-thought-out goals, but you’ll be working in sync with nature. The same nature that typically ensures your idealistic (and often unrealistic) New Year’s resolutions are a smashing failure will help create sustainable positive changes.
If you share my history of leaving a virtual graveyard of failed resolutions in your past, try a different resolution. Resolve to put your plan into action this spring and watch how your resolutions bloom and grow along with the summer flowers. Ayurveda teaches us how to work with our natural cycles and take advantage of the possibilities. Simply by changing the pattern of WHEN you implement major changes can significantly affect the likelihood of success. But the theories of ayurveda are best tested in the laboratory of life – try it and see what happens.
Heather Anastos, RYT-500, CAP
*For more information on doshas, see our Ayurveda page.