With the new year a chance for all of us to become better versions of ourselves - leaner, fitter, less prone to stressing out over the small things - it can be all too easy to put off our resolutions until the harsh reality of January 1st actually hits.

This is why we are proposing a radical new alteration this year - pre-New Year's resolutions!

It's a remarkably simple concept: rather than reach for the Christmas chocolates again, go upstairs, get out your Yoga equipment and head to the gym or nearest park to shake off the stresses and strains of the festive season and practise your best moves.

If you're ahead of the curve this year and have already taken up a new sport, Yoga can really help you unwind and benefit from all that exercise. Dark evenings and chilly rain can sometimes make our training regime a little more sporadic than it should be, so when you get back into it you are more likely to feel the aches and pains, especially in your calves, shins and hamstrings.

Tightness in your legs can be loosened with Yoga moves, explains Emilie Smith, creator of Yoga For Athletes, a programme offered at Equinox and Reebok Sports Club.

"Yoga's not just about stretching yourself out like a sweater," she told Prevention.com. "Yoga can improve running form, increase range of motion and help prevent injuries. In the end, you'll perform more efficiently."

She said Active Downward Dog move, which acts as a warm-up, is particularly helpful to runners. Kneel on your Yoga mat with your palms planted on the floor slightly in front of your shoulders, then lift your knees and push your heels towards the floor. Breathe in and out ten times while pedalling each foot in turn and moving your hips from side to side to burn off those Christmassy calories.

Posted by Freya Harper