Entering into a new year is an important transition, and many believe that the way you spend New Year’s Eve sets the tone for the coming year. While our culture places a huge emphasis on doing something special on New Year’s Eve—champagne, fancy outfits, the ball drop in Times Square—many yogis are looking for a more profound way of honoring the space between old and new.
If you’re ready for a different kind of New Year’s, why not try a ritual? New year rituals are perfect for those seeking more spiritual connection and fulfillment during this transition time. Whether you’re spending New Year’s Eve alone or with others, I’ve found seven rituals that will help you honor the current year and welcome the new year with the right energy.
Why You Should Give New Year Rituals a Try
A ritual is a customary series of actions that typically holds deep significance. From a yogic point of view, rituals affect our consciousness on both subtle and energetic levels. These changes to our consciousness can manifest as thoughts, choices, emotions, and physical sensations that often ripple outward into the world around us. Rituals also have practical physical benefits, having been shown to reduce anxiety, increase confidence, improve attention, and increase emotional stability.
Yogic Rituals to Enter the New Year
A ritual does not need to be long or complex to be powerful and effective. Any of the following seven rituals can be modified to suit your individual needs or desires or combined for greater effect. Experiment to find which combination works best for you, and may you have a peaceful and profound New Year’s Eve!
One simple yet potent way to end one year and begin the next is to do so in a deep state of meditation—either alone or alongside friends. Simply choose the type of meditation that brings you into the deepest state of peace and tranquillity and decide how much time you want to devote to it. Light some candles and incense and plan to end your meditation at (or after) midnight. As the clock strikes twelve, be sure to relish the peace and harmony you are feeling.
A puja is a devotional ritual to welcome the Divine into your home so that you may freely receive blessings and prayers. One specific type is a fire puja, which also incorporates the element of releasing negative energies. A fire puja is a powerful way to let go of things that no longer serve you and make space for your New Year’s intentions and goals. Your fire puja ritual can be as simple as journaling, or you can use slips of paper to write down ideas you wish to release, then burn them in your fireplace or in a bonfire.
Kirtan is one of the fundamental practices of Bhakti Yoga—the yoga of grace, love, and devotion. Kirtan is a musical call-and-response form of chanting during which a word or phrase is repeated. If you can’t find a New Year’s Eve kirtan nearby, round up your musically talented friends for an at-home kirtan or listen to tracks by kirtan recording artists like Krishna Das or Snatam Kaur. I’d recommend planning for the most energetic chant to happen at midnight so you can enter the year in a beautiful buzz of ecstatic bliss.
Another super sweet way to celebrate New Year’s is to gather a group of friends for a sharing circle. Sitting together to share challenges and successes from the past year and reflecting on what you wish to bring into the new year can be deeply therapeutic and empowering.
To host a sharing circle, invite family and friends over and set up your space so that everyone in the circle can see each other. Lead a brief centering meditation, then take turns sharing a favorite inspirational quote, poem, or New Year’s intention. You might also allow a few minutes for each person to share the personal experience from the past year that gave them the most hope, gratitude, or inspiration.
Try wrapping up the current year and preparing for the next with a deep New Year’s journaling session. This could take the form of a manifestation collage board, letter to oneself, or list of the top 15 things you were grateful for this year.
Plan ahead by preparing a list of potential writing topics, such as:
- What were your top accomplishments of the past year?
- What were your biggest challenges and most important lessons of the year?
- What did you do this past year that you’d never done before?
- Was there anything holding back that you can let go of?
- Is there anything you regret or need to forgive?
New Year’s resolutions can be a bit negative and self-defeating. Only focusing on what we want to change about ourselves can lead to us feeling like we’re not good enough as we are. A more positive approach is to set a Sankalpa or intention for the year. Your Sankalpa could be any positive quality you wish to cultivate in your life!
Plan an appropriate chunk of time to allow yourself to deeply contemplate and reflect on the past year’s challenges. Once you have identified a clear, positive, and tangible intention, write your new Sankalpa down and display it somewhere you’ll see it on a daily basis.
Karma yoga is the practice of cultivating selflessness, kindness, and compassion by performing acts of service without the expectation of gain. Volunteering for a local non-profit on New Year’s Eve is a powerful way to practice karma yoga and to strengthen your values and purpose.
Take time to research which local events would be the best match-up of your skills and their needs. Especially at this time of year, you should be able to find homeless shelters looking for help with cooking and serving food, ride-share organizations needing volunteers to provide safe rides to partygoers, and nonprofits looking for volunteers for their donor parties.
However you choose to spend your time, we wish you a very happy New Year! Tell us in the comments how you’ll be welcoming the year ahead.