The January Warrior


January is a much anticipated, or loathed time for intention-setting. Being someone who doesn't roll their eyes at this practice, but rather quite enjoys it in quarterly doses (perhaps indicative of,  a) the ease with which I fall off the wagon, b) some underlying distrust or dissatisfaction with how I am living my life, or, I'd like to believe c) a highly developed self-improvement habit) I bought a yogi-about-town pass called Class Pass, which gives me access to almost 30 yoga, fitness and dance studios in the city. Just in time for the snow and ice, I've been back on my mat with the specific intent to shuffling my feet around the hallways of Toronto's yoga studios. 

I could call my intention 'community-building', but what does that really mean? For me, it means challenging my reluctance to get out of my living and practice with others; challenging the shyness in me that would rather keep my yoga quiet, and to myself; challenging my irrational fickleness that somehow cannot 'splurge' on yoga classes but finds a night out drinking an absolute necessity. Reveling in the post-practice bliss of one asana session I shake my head, as always this time of year, as though to say 'why did it take me so long to do this, again!'

With sweat dripping from my finger tips in one of Moksha Downtown's heated rooms, I held Virabadrasana (Warrior) 2 and perceived that I was embodying a metaphor for life in January. 

Why is January like Warrior 2? Both are moments of stillness and pause,  mid-points between the past and the future, extending forward and back, which challenges and strengthen us. 

A pose, (and a life?!) out of balance is to cling too tightly too the past, keeping us from grasping the future and moving forward. By the same token, we don't want to dump all our weight forward in the pose reaching towards the new year, letting go of the lessons of the year that has just past, no matter how painful or challenging.

The month, and the pose, are all about mid-points - toggles if you will, between past and future, forward and backwards, all rooted in the present moment, in which we need to be grounded, clear and determined.

I felt like my body was holding time together in a way, holding the lessons and gifts of last year in one hand while lightly extending my fingers forward towards the dream for this coming year. I felt both powerful and peaceful, as though watching life like a bird perched in a tall spruce tree.

So right now, pause: what you are carrying forward and leaving behind from 2015? Now imagine: what are you reaching for in 2016? And remember: where are you right now? At this very moment you are holding together your past and future with the power, perception, intuition and skill of a warrior.

Looking forward to journeying into this new year with you and in wonder, dreaming of where it will take us, 


Mara Raye 

If I was asked to get rid of the Zen aesthetic and just keep one quality necessary to create art, I would say it’s trust. When you learn to trust yourself implicitly, you no longer need to prove something through your art. You simply allow it to come out, to be as it is. This is when creating art becomes effortless. It happens just as you grow your hair. It grows.
— John Daido Loori