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What My Year of Yoga Taught Me About Having Patience With Myself

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Like 40 percent of people, I set New Year's resolutions. Year after year, I resolve to give up junk food, call my grandma every week and get Michelle Obama arms (to name a few). And like the majority of people, my resolutions fall to the wayside by late January or early February.

At the end of 2012, I contemplated ditching New Year's resolutions altogether. What was the point, if they just brought up feelings of guilt and failure two months into the year? As I halfheartedly surfed the Internet looking for a solution to my resolution problem, I came across an article about setting quantifiable goals instead of resolutions. I was skeptical, but I decided it was worth a try.

What did I want for myself in 2013? My mind drifted to yoga. I had signed up for a teacher training program, so why not make this my Year Of Yoga by supplementing my training with additional classes? 200 seemed like a nice round number, and it's not like it would take over my life or anything.

I was so excited. When I had finished my 200 classes, I would be the best yogi in New York. I would be able to do the splits and move into handstands Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style. I had 365 long days staring me in the face, and 200 classes seemed like nothing. It broke down to 16.6 classes a month, or four to five classes a week. What would be so hard about that?

Truth be told, I wasn't exactly prepared for how much commitment my resolution would involve. It turned out to be very, very hard. As much as I knew yoga helped with stress, more often than not my couch seemed a lot more appealing than a yoga class after a long day. Worse, I had become the girl who had to turn down every impromptu dinner or drink invitation because she had to get her 16.6 yoga classes in that month.

And I wasn't exactly the acrobat I'd imagined I would be. My hamstrings were still pretty tight, and looking back that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon thing seemed like a not-so-funny joke. I started to get frustrated. Why was I doing this, anyway? Where was all the progress I was sure I would see so quickly?

In June, I spent a long, yoga-free weekend on the beach with friends thinking about how dumb my resolution was in the first place. I could just stop. It was something I had made up, a self-inflicted, binding number. But when I returned from vacation, my body was craving yoga... and I was already halfway there. I was going to take yoga classes anyway, why give up now?

Six months later, I couldn't be happier that I plowed through the second half of my yoga goal. Last month, I had a few pleasant yoga-related surprises. On an ordinary Tuesday night, I kicked up into a handstand and didn't topple over immediately. On a snowy Saturday, I found that my left hamstring was so open that I could almost -- almost -- almost do the splits.

But the biggest surprise of all was what a positive influence my Year Of Yoga had on the rest of my life. My frequent practice gave me the confidence to lead a weekly class, the discipline that kept me returning to the mat bled into my work and relationships and the patience I was forced to have with myself taught me live with ease and be more forgiving of my own mistakes.

If you ask me, slow and steady progress is highly underrated. And as I begin 2014 with a new set of goals, it feels pretty great to be able to say I've finally kept a New Year's resolution.

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