Thanksgiving has many of us singing praises for our family, our friends, and all of the other blessings in our life. This year, among many other things I have to be grateful for, I am thankful for yoga. This is the first Thanksgiving since I have really committed this amazing practice, and I can’t help but find inspiration in this season of gratitude.
Use Thankfulness as your Intention
I have been using this intention for weeks without even realizing it. I have been away from my mat for a short period due to illness and my practice has been a bit rusty, to say the least. In order to nurture my body and give it the time it needs to heal, I have regularly been setting an intention of gratitude to thank my body for the ability to do yoga at all – rather than criticize it for not performing the way I want it to.
This makes for a very happy practice. I smile more. (In fact, I think I would be smiling for the whole session if I had the ability to focus on my intention more actively. Hey, I’m working on it!) I am kinder to myself. I am a more joyful and peaceful yogi.
Thank your body throughout your practice
In this spirit, I have learned to say “thank you” to my body (even when I feel like saying something more PG-13). Each time I would normally begin to pass judgment, I am grateful in stead. Anytime I encounter a posture that brings me close to my edge, I remember my thankfulness. In Half pigeon pose, which I happen to love, in stead of backing away from the deep hip stretch, I tell myself, "Thank you, hip. Thank you, Pigeon. Thank you for the good you are doing my body by opening and strengthening me."
This thought process allows me to go deeper into my practice. I embrace each asana more fully. I am able to sink into my true full expression of otherwise difficult poses, to harness my true potential, in a sense. It is making me a better yogi both physically and mentally.
Spread your yogic gratitude around you
I like to think that this emphasis on gratitude can be passed on the fellow practitioners. I think that a grateful practice creates a sort of aura of happiness that can fill a room. If even one other person sees me smiling, maybe they will smile and begin to feel the joy of thankfulness as well.
I am thankful for my fellow yogis for their ability to contribute to this feeling. We can all help each other to achieve the benefits of this season in our practice and our lives. I am thankful for the teachers who inspire gratitude in all of us each time we step onto our mats. And most of all, I am thankful to my body and my mind for allowing me to practice yoga. Namaste!