Thanksgiving is a time of year I have a heightened sense of gratitude. There’s something in the air that pulls for feeling grateful with family gathering, traditional food, and contributing to others, so they too can share the season’s blessings.
I am grateful to welcome eighteen family members and friends at my home for Thanksgiving this year, and, not one of them will eat until they each share something they’re grateful for.
But why wait till Thanksgiving to count your blessings? Gratitude is a small practice that reaps massive rewards in our health, happiness, and yoga practice. Gratitude is a mindfulness practice that opens our hearts and frees us from attachment to our circumstances, enhancing our joy, and our connection to the world outside ourselves.
Another gift of gratitude is our grounding in the present moment. A gift of the Here and Now, much like our yoga practice. On the mat, offer up a moment of gratitude for the ability to be in the space, breathe and move. Notice the poses that seem effortless, where gratitude flows. And what about those moments where you resist and struggle on your mat, temporarily losing the grace that comes with gratitude.
Research has shown that being grateful leads to improved relationships, reduced inflammation (a major cause of chronic degenerative disease), better sleep, and reduced fatigue and depression.
Here are a few simple recommendations to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life. In the morning, before your feet hit the floor, take a moment to find at least one thing to be thankful for, and take a few moments to dwell in that space. In the evening, before your head touches your pillow, think of at least one thing that happened during your day that you are grateful for. Perhaps keep a small journal at your bedside to record your thoughts. It’s especially comforting to look back at your gratitude list during trying times in your life. Finding something to be thankful for during sad or challenging times will go a long way in lifting your spirit, and affecting a state change.
As I sit on my patio on this gorgeous Florida November day, writing these words, I feel immense appreciation for my surroundings, and, for each of you, with whom I am blessed to share my love of yoga.
What are you most grateful for? What are your gratitude practices? I’d be grateful if you’d share in the comments below.