This is the time of year when gratitude is on everyone’s mind. We think about how lucky we are to have the important people in our lives, a roof over our heads, food to eat, and all the other things that make our lives richer. I’ve even done a 4-part series on my podcast during this month of November 2022, with each episode focusing on a different aspect of cultivating gratitude and abundance in our lives. Feel free to check out my podcast by checking out the episodies in the Podcast tab on this site, or you can listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or wherever else you listen to your podcasts.
Expressing gratitude is healing – and there’s nothing like a great yoga class to help you remember and appreciate the many blessings in your life. After taking a yoga class, I often find myself thinking afterwards something along the lines of: “Breathing makes me feel so GOOD!” Laugh if you must, but I am incredibly grateful for those moments when I can appreciate the simple things that I usually take for granted.
There are many other ways of expressing gratitude, of course, and it can be as simple as:
- Writing a thank you note to a friend or loved one.
- Jotting down five to 10 things in your life you are grateful for each day.
- Offering a handshake.
- Giving hugs.
- Smiling at others.
- Doing random acts of kindness.
- Volunteering for a community project.
- Offering to do a chore, errand, or unpleasant task.
- Offering genuine compliments.
- Being an active and sincere listener.
“For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile.”Elie Wiesel
Gratitude is a gesture of the heart, and I would argue that it also needs to become a daily habit in each of our lives. Being thankful for your body, the air, water, food, people around you, your job — or even no job, for just being able to walk the earth, and live in a world that is open to you all the time – can transform your life!
Personally, when I take the time to focus on what I’m grateful for, I notice that my body physically relaxes…I smile. And because I’m not focusing on the “victim” or “blame” mentality that I am prone to, I instead feel blessed and more appreciative of others around me…I’m reminded of all the positive things in my life, and also find that I focus my attention on everybody’s well-being around me, rather that JUST myself.
How yoga can help cultivate abundance and gratitude
As mentioned above, there are many things you can do to help you in expressing gratitude. Your yoga practice is also a great way to help you in cultivating gratitude. Try doing some of all of the following when you’re moving through your physical practice:
- Set your intention to appreciate every moment, every breath, and every movement. Gratitude is about appreciating every minute of your life, savoring the air in your lungs, the healing stretch that you feel in your muscles in certain poses, the strength that you feel, the vibrations you feel in your body when you chant, or the happiness that you feel when you meditate.
- Make your movements an offering. Whenever I bring my hands together at my heart in Anjali Mudra (Namaste or “prayer hands”) throughout my practice, it spreads the feeling of gratitude. Heart opening postures allow me to open myself and be receptive to the blessings in life. Forward folding postures allow me to focus inward so I can reflect on the blessings in my life.
- Count your blessings with every breath. Don’t expect to be able to do this for an entire practice, but doing this for just a few minutes will do wonders! I like to inhale the essence of the blessing and exhale all limitations keeping me from experiencing the blessing in every area of my life.
- Focus on the positive. It’s easy to get disappointed and grumble about what you perceive as your shortcomings on the mat — maybe you’re not as flexible or not as strong, or perhaps an injury is inhibiting movement. Make a commitment to use your yoga practice to observe all the amazing things you CAN do instead. You will see that gratitude will spill over into other areas of your life as well.
- Smile when the pose gets challenging. Generally, we tend to scrunch our face up when we do a difficult pose or experience some pain. Consciously decide to smile instead. Slowly you will see that you are smiling more easily and often throughout the rest of your day.
- At the end of your practice, express your gratitude towards your yoga teacher, your family, and everyone including yourself who made this yoga session possible for you. This will help to be appreciative of everyone around you in your life. For me, whenever I attend a yoga class during the evening, I often express gratitude towards my husband for cooking dinner while I’m in class and having a healthy meal ready when I get home.
If you’re interested, in Part 3 of the 4-part series I’ve done on my podcast this month (which is Season 2, Episode 5…see links in the first paragraph of this blog post to access the podcast from the various platforms), I offer a 45-minute Gentle Yoga practice that focuses on Gratitude. And in the Part 4 episode (Season 2, Episode 6), I offer a 5-minute Lakshmi Gratitude meditation (Lakshmi is the Goddess of good luck, good fortune and everything that is favorable or conducive to success).
Celebrate Gratitude for a Month
Studies prove that giving thanks can make you happier, and gratitude increases a sense of well-being by 10%. Check out this article for some more interesting statistics about what celebrating gratitude can do for you. Try it and find out for yourself!
Try maintaining a gratitude journal for the entire month. Every morning, start your day with a simple gratitude meditation about 3-10 things you are grateful for, both big and small. Simply jot down the little moments of grace that come effortlessly into your life.
You will be amazed at how these small blessings cultivate a beautiful “just right” abundance of love and joy.
Make the whole month about giving thanks, not just one day. You might just see that it will become your life habit. Finally let us remember that Thanksgiving is much more than turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and football. This year, find gratitude not only for your blessings but also in the challenges that have shaped who you are today.
“The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.”Michael Josephson
Namaste and Have a Sparkling Day!