By Hillari Dowdle

The new year is the traditional time to stop and ask yourself an important question: Am I leading a well-balanced life?

It's easy to get bogged down in the details, in setting goals that relate to how you think you want to look, or act, or be in this world. But consider bypassing all the particulars—the numbers on the scale, the bank account balance, the starting or stopping of habits—in favor of a deeper approach that can reshape your whole life in a positive way.

The yoga tradition offers a paradigm for such deep self-examination: the purusharthas, or four aims of life. They are dharma (duty, ethics), artha (prosperity; wealth), kama (pleasure, sensual gratification), and moksha (the pursuit of liberation). The purush-arthas are the blueprint for human fulfillment, signposts that point us to a successful, satisfying, balanced existence in the world. Working with them can help you create a satisfyingly balanced life at the deepest and most holistic level. (See "Fine-Tune Your Life," on page 64.)

"We all have a desire for a meaningful life. The purusharthas are the means that can help us achieve it," says ParaYoga founder Rod Stryker, who is working on a book about the purusharthas that's called The Four Desires. "They are, in a larger sense, what practice is really all about," he says, adding that the purusharthas offer a yogic perspective on how to engage skillfully in the world.

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