Gratitude is the way to happiness. Rather than seeking happiness outside of yourself, which is a trap that almost everyone falls into from time to time, you must cultivate your happiness from within by becoming aware of everything you have already.
While sitting down to journal, meditate, or indulge in some good old self-talk on gratitude is always encouraged, you can also integrate gratitude with yoga by making it the theme of your practice anytime you decide to step onto your mat. Here’s how.
Set your agenda aside.
Many yogis start their practice with a goal in mind—to sweat, to destress, to become more flexible, to soothe back pain, to grow stronger, or even to show everyone else how great they are at yoga. But by constantly focusing on acquiring something you think you need to feel satisfied, happy, or more whole, you can’t properly focus on being grateful for what you already have.
For your gratitude practice, give yourself permission to forget your goals. Practice to celebrate and given thanks for the moment as it is.
Set an intention for gratitude.
Whether you decide to start your practice in easy pose, thunderbolt pose, mountain pose, downward facing dog, or whatever else, it’s worth consciously taking a few extra moments to call up an intention for gratitude before you transition into the next pose.
For example, you might set an intention to be grateful for the simple opportunity to move your body today, or you might want to intentionally be grateful for a valuable lesson you learned from an emotionally difficult life event.
Practice grounding poses.
Gratitude is naturally grounding on its own, but it can always help to facilitate groundedness with certain yoga poses to further inspire a greater sense of gratitude.
Tree pose offers the challenge of balancing to help you calm your mind and surrender to the moment, inspiring you allow your growth to grow and soar toward the sky. Warrior poses also anchor you to the ground and encourage you to be grateful for the strength and focus needed to take on life’s challenges.
Do your sun salutations.
Sun salutations are performed to appreciate the energy of the sun and all of the life that depends on its light.
Even on the coldest, windiest, and rainiest days of autumn, you can connect to the sun that’s hiding behind all those clouds and use that connection to stoke your internal fire. With more heat and blood flowing through your body, you’ll find it easier to be grateful for all that you have when the weather seems dull and bleak.
Surrender in resting poses.
Once you shift back into child’s pose after an intense sequence or feel your body to melt into the floor in savasana at the end of your practice, allow yourself to surrender to what is. The real power of gratitude comes from surrendering not only to the good things, but to the struggles and challenges of life as well.
So give yourself a few extra moments to sink into the present state of reality in your resting poses. Open yourself what’s already here with you, what you have, and who you really are—and gratitude will naturally fill your heart with more love.
Image via Minoru Nitta