New Year’s Resolutions and Detox – an Ayurvedic approach

New Year's Resolutions and Detox - an Ayurvedic approach_Urban Goddess Blog

There is so much focus on New Year’s Resolutions, diets, detoxes and getting in the gym in January. A new year equals a new beginning. And for many of us, this means we want to get fit and maybe also lose some weight. Often times we have this great intention but after a few weeks, we stop going to the gym and the diet never really happened. Or maybe the new regime did do something, but we weren’t really feeling that great on it.

Those are the resolutions we will focus on in this article.


New Year’s intentions and Sankalpas

In yoga, we have a concept called Sankalpa. If you have ever experienced Yoga Nidra (a guided relaxation) you might have been encouraged to have a Sankalpa. A Sankalpa is a resolution or intention. Often said as a positive statement in the present tense.

The Sankalpa is thought of as a spiritual statement that we strive towards. But in reality, it could be any intention or affirmation. A bit like a New Year’s resolution – with a spiritual approach.

  • Instead of wanting to lose weight, perhaps our intention can be to feel well and wholesome in body mind and spirit.
  • Instead of reducing calories to become slim, we could resolve to nurture our bodies with nourishing foods.
  • Instead of feeling like a slave to the gym, we can intend to support and love our bodies.

It is after all our body we experience life through, so let’s take care of it. Even the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (a classic yoga text) explains that once we have a wholesome body, it becomes easier to focus on our spiritual practice: “Prior to everything, asana is spoken of as the first part of Hatha yoga. Having done asana one gets steadiness (firmness) of body and mind; diseaselessness and lightness (flexibility) of the limbs” Chapter 1 verse 17

Our New Year’s resolutions and Sankalpas may very well have nothing to do with our body or appearance, but rather focus on self-development and spiritual pursuits.


Detox and wholesome diets

The depth of winter is not the time for calorie reduced diets, salads or green juices according to Ayurveda. Quite the opposite.

In Ayurveda, we associate winter with Kapha Dosha. Kapha Dosha consists of the water and earth elements. The qualities of Kapha include cold, wet, heavy, stable, solid, unctuous and slow. These qualities naturally increase during the winter season. If we have excess Kapha we might start feeling low, depressed and unmotivated; experience weight gain and fluid retention; feeling slow and experiencing sluggish digestion.

Winter is also the time when we naturally hibernate as the days get shorter and nights get longer. It’s natural for us to want to stay at home in the evenings. To cosy up with a book, contemplate and reflect.


The outer sun and inner sun (Agni) are related. Our Agni is our inner fire, which includes our digestive fire. With fewer external hours of sun during the day, our digestive fire is also reduced. This means we might find it more challenging to digest our food. In Ayurveda, we favour foods that are easily digestible. If the food is already cooked, it’s easier for our inner fire to digest it. The usual diet food of salads or green juices has cold and “rough” qualities which can be more challenging to digest, especially in winter, according to Ayurveda.

The Ayurvedic approach to detox and New Year’s resolutions is to enjoy warm soups, casseroles, roasts and broths. Add warming spices and herbs including ginger, cumin, cinnamon and black pepper. Drink herbal teas or milk drinks such as turmeric lattes.

If you feel sluggish and find it difficult to digest, you may want to explore Kitcheri or a mung bean soup. Both are easy to digest and nutritious. They are perfect for a digestive rest during the winter.


Exercise in winter and staying fit

According to Ayurvedic classic texts, exercise “creates stability and strength and has to be practised in moderation. It brings lightness, ability to work (as it increases fitness levels) and also supports digestion”.

Exercise and movement are specifically important for people with a tendency to excess Kapha. It is also important when the external environment (winter) increases Kapha’s qualities. But moderation is key. We exercise to prevent heaviness, sluggishness and lethargy. But not to get exhausted. We move to improve our circulation and our breathing. Not to overheat or burn out.

Enjoy walks in nature, making the most of the daylight hours – or get out your bicycle. Roll out the yoga mat, move, flow and enjoy breathing practises. Dance and have fun.

As always, Ayurveda is about balance for the individual. To be aware of the seasons and cycles of Nature – and your own being.

Now cosy up, light some candles or the fireplace (if you are lucky enough to have one), wear some soft comfortable clothes and find your way onto your yoga mat to move and breathe.




Anja Brierley Lange (BSc, PGDip Āyurveda) is the author of Teaching yoga for the menstrual cycle – an Āyurvedic perspective and an experienced yoga teacher, Āyurvedic practitioner and teacher trainer. Teaching since 2005 she has specialised in yoga and Āyurveda relating to female anatomy and physiology. Originally from Denmark, she moved to London and now lives on the Sussex coast, where she enjoys being by or in the sea. Follow @anja_yogini and check for courses, classes and inspiration.