“The attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga.” Yogi Bhajan
’Tis the season of celebration with family and friends, exchanging presents, sharing delicious food and drink and spreading good cheer. We are surrounded by so many things to be thankful for this time of year and with New Year’s just around the corner, an attitude of gratitude is our hearts. It is a time of reflection and a time of inspiration. What happened this year has already shaped us, we got through it, and what lies ahead, we are ready for.
Taking the time to express your gratitude for all the treasures and hardships of the year is important, and what better place to do so than on your yoga mat.
Here are some ways to express your gratitude through your yoga practice.
1. At the beginning of many yoga classes, the teacher will often say, “Set an intention for your practice,” or the teacher will lead the class is some type of pranayama practice. Take this time to thank others and also to thank yourself. Think of it as a little prayer. Say their name, speak to them through your heart and keep that acknowledgement of them with you throughout your practice.
2. Thank your body. With each pose, pay attention to how your muscles and joints feel. Bring your awareness to your entire body in each pose so that you can appreciate how strong and supple you are. Thank your healthy body for allowing you to progress through this moving meditation. Your body is like a machine. It needs to move in order to keep working. So thank your body and thank yourself for practicing yoga and keeping it going!
3. Do not get frustrated with your limitations. When you struggle with a particular pose on the mat, remind yourself to breathe through the endeavor and accept your limitations. Once you do so, you can then further your progress. Again, appreciate your body’s strengths and also appreciate that which challenges you! It is pretty amazing that you can hold down dog for 10 breaths and balance in tree pose. Some of you can do a handstand or sit in full lotus. Be grateful for where you are and get excited for where you are going! The more grateful we are, the more gratitude flows into our lives!
4. When holding a pose for a while, like Ustrasana (Camel Pose) or Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold) try and count your blessings with each breath. Inhale—I am so grateful my family is together for Christmas—Exhale. Inhale—Thank you, best friend, for calling me on Face Time with your daughter and husband—Exhale. Inhale—Thank you for my beautiful home and yoga studio—Exhale. Inhale–I am so grateful my heart is finally healing from the breakup.
5. Embrace Savasana. Once you finish your yoga practice, take your time is Corpse Pose. There is no better feeling than when your muscles melt into the floor and you take these last few moments to yourself to recognize how incredible you feel after your practice. Relish in these last moments you have on the mat. You deserve it.
6. Some of us practice asana, then pranayama, and then some sort of meditation. If you have time for this, you can always repeat something you are grateful during pranayama, or you can focus your mediation on a person, thing or experience you are grateful for. Hey! You can even meditate on the idea of gratitude if are a seasoned practitioner.
7. Say it! Write it! Tell the people in your life how grateful you are for them! Always turn your phone off during your practice, of course, but afterwards, while still full of so much gratitude you expressed all practice, why not call your parents, text your boyfriend or email your friend before you go back to the daily grind. Take a few moments after practice to profess your sincere appreciation for those generous, compassionate and loving people in your life.
Seasons greetings and happy practicing!!