If your mom says what my mom has said year over year, that “as you grow older the years go by faster and faster'”, then like me, you’ve come to agree that this statement is true. I can remember January 2010 as if it was one month ago, not a year ago. And lo and behold, here we are at the beginning of yet another year, 2011.

The holidays are a nice time out. Maybe not the actual holidays themselves, or the time and effort spent in preparation for them, but rather the time between Christmas and New Year’s, which can be a relaxing time out if we let it. For most of us, the pressure of the big holiday is over with the passing of Christmas. And New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are spent in a more mellow fashion: perhaps a casual dinner, and maybe some football. Relatives go back home and the decorations get put away. No one is in any hurry as we slowly pack up 2010 and turn our thoughts towards 2011. I love the idea of putting away the Christmas ornaments as I get the bug to clean the house, too. It’s a way to prepare for the New Year ahead. It’s another tradition in the long list of customs we have around the holidays. For me, cleaning it all up and out is great detox therapy. I say goodbye to the holidays and to the old year and make space for the new and exciting things ahead.

I have another tradition, as well. At the beginning of each year I pick an Angel Card. My friend Carrie reminded me of this tradition as I used to also offer these special cards at the studio years ago. Before your class on New Year’s Day, you simply pick one small card out of a deck of 50 or so and that is your word for the year. It’s fun to place anywhere around your house, bathroom, bedroom, or even stuck in the visor of your car for you to see as the 365 days go by. This last year my card was “Patience”. Wow, what a powerful word. I can tell you that I thought about that word every single day in 2010.

I focused on patience with my relationships, patience in a decision I needed to make, patience in decisions that I needed to wait for, patience when my car broke down, patience when a teacher didn’t make it to teach class, patience when the humidifier decided to break, patience with my yoga practice, patience with keeping my balance in standing head to knee, patience when the timing of things wasn’t in the timing that I planned, patience as I write when sometimes the words just don’t flow as easily as I’d like, and…well, the list goes on. It’s a word I didn’t want when I picked it, but, as I look back, it has been an incredible teacher for me. Patience makes you humble and asks you to take a seat and let other, higher, forces speak to the task at hand. It strengthened my trust that things will work out the way they are intended by simply getting out of the way. I am grateful for having this word on my mind all year, as I’m not sure that I would have behaved in what I believe was a better fashion had I not picked “patience” as my word.

I remember how lost I felt at times, some years ago, when I was leaving a very nice career to start another totally unrelated and unknown business. Much of it was exciting and felt right in my heart, but that made it no less hard or frightening. I was starting all over again. But a friend of mine told me that, yes, I was at the beginning again, but not on the same plane. I was bringing with me all that I had learned, and my starting point was laden with more tools, more wisdom, and more experience. I recall that piece of wisdom every time a new year begins, or when I am starting a new endeavor. We may be cycling back again, but we are doing so with a bigger and better skill set acquired through hard work and honed through experience. Over the years I’ve picked numerous angel cards with words like abundance, grace, beauty, enthusiasm, reflection, integrity, gratitude, and now patience, and each of them has brought me to where I am now. Patience is no longer a word but a lesson I chose to learn more about in 2010. I haven’t chosen my word yet for 2011, but I’m ready to begin again, with another year under my belt of newly acquired insights.

Why not create your own tradition at the beginning of each year? Make it something that is significant for you to improve upon or change, AND is doable and within the privacy of your own company. Our yoga practice, while giving us greater well-being in all areas, also motivates us to create better awareness and observation to all things, especially as it relates to ourselves. By doing so, we open up to more choices and select the ones that better serve us.

And here is another kicker. There is a direct correlation between the “higher” or wiser choices we make and the feeling we get from having done so. For instance, when I’m more patient and wait to address a situation, I feel more satisfied not just because the end result has turned out for the better, but because of the good feeling I get from the other parties involved. Your self-study isn’t selfish. It’s quite the contrary. It’s selfless and giving. Our steps to self- realize enlighten those around us, and what makes it so intoxicating is how good we feel when our awakenings GIVES to others too.

But, it is up to you to take the initiative. As BYSJ Teacher, Cynthia mentioned in her classes this week, pick a pose that you can work on for the year. It’s the year of the rabbit, so perhaps Rabbit pose is your homework for 2011. Pay attention to how it feels in your body, what it says to you, what it conjures up in the pose, how the benefits affect you, your judgments about the pose etc. Or Google Angel Cards, go buy a box, and then pick your word for the year.

Bikram gets very disturbed with our culture at times, calling us the “jack of all trades, but master of none.” The yoga is much more than surface material and far beyond what we teachers can explain in 90 minutes. Explore YOUR yoga. Develop and Master You. At the end of each year, you’ll have a collection gifts far greater than the ones bought at the store. When you make that kind of investment in yourself, you won’t age wondering where all the years went.