Yoga has so many layers. It’s a physical practice, a mental practice, and a spiritual practice all rolled into one. With our day to day lives and busy minds, it’s easy to forget that there is much more to yoga than physical movement.
While it is easy to space out during your yoga practice, yoga offers an amazing opportunity to practice gratitude. Making a mental shift from autopilot to gratitude is very powerful.
The following are five simple and fun ways to bring an attitude of gratitude into your practice.
1. Body Scan
If you’re like me, you generally spend Savasana thinking about what you’re going to eat after yoga or planning out the rest of your day. Not so zen. Instead of tuning out, take this pose as an opportunity to send gratitude and loving thoughts to your body. Do a self love body scan by starting at your toes and working your way up to the top of your head, sending gratitude to each part of your body as you go.
2. Dedicate Your Practice
Dedicating your practice to someone you love is another great way to cultivate gratitude in yoga. At the beginning of class, choose someone to whom you’d like to dedicate the class to and take a moment to go over the reasons they are special to you. It’s so easy to take our loved ones for granted and this practices helps to remind us of how lucky we are to have them in our lives.
3. Make a Gratitude List
At the start of your practice, take a moment to mentally list three things you are grateful for. They can be as significant as your family and friends or as small as a delicious breakfast. Anything that lights you up and makes you smile is perfect.
4. Explore Heart Opening Asanas
All yoga asanas have an energetic component to them, and heart opening poses (i.e. poses that open up your chest area, like backbends) are meant to stimulate your heart chakra. You can amp up these heart-opening benefits by focusing on thoughts of gratitude as you flow through these poses.
5. Use Your Breath
Your breath is an amazing way to connect to a feeling of gratitude because it gets you out of your mind and into your body. As you flow through your practice, envision yourself breathing in loving energy and exhaling gratitude.
While gratitude is a powerful practice, sometimes it is difficult to feel grateful. An equally important practice is to honour your feelings and emotions. If you’re having a down day and aren’t able to tap into gratitude, allow yourself to be present with the emotions you are feeling. Yoga offers us an opportunity to connect to our true selves. Some days this means celebrating all of the amazing blessings in our lives and some days this means accepting uncomfortable feelings. I’ve found that the more open I am to accepting what I’m really feeling in the moment, the sooner I’m able to return to a place of gratitude.
Kate is a freelance writer, a wellness blogger, and she has trained as a yoga teacher and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner. You can find her on Instagram @myspiritualroadtrip.