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Yoga is more than an exercise—it is a way of being that takes different forms. Many of us have been introduced to yoga through a local gym or studio, and while the poses (called asanas in Sanskrit) do their part in improving our external attributes, the appreciative feelings they inspire on the mat cannot be experienced off it without doing some internal work.
It’s been proven that feeling grateful improves mental health and increases your happiness. What better time to infuse gratitude into your yoga practice than on a holiday dedicated to just that?
Here are three ways to incorporate gratitude into your practice this Thanksgiving:
If your yoga routine is focused on poses, one way to inspire gratitude is to set it as an intention at the beginning of the practice. Taking time to meditate on the intention allows the mind to release whatever concerns are present and evoke the positive emotions that gratitude provides. Returning to the intention at the end of your practice seals in the good vibes, encouraging those thoughts to remain with you long after class ends.
Repeating a mantra silently to yourself like, “I am grateful for (an aspect of your life),” helps to focus the mind on that thought. Even things that you don’t perceive as positive—your body, your job, a relationship, etc.—can be recognized with gratitude for the lessons they taught you, or the motivation they have given you to improve yourself or your situation.
Choose any pose that you truly enjoy and make it your “gratitude pose.” Each time you do this pose, you will experience and embrace the beautiful feelings it evokes. Instead of counting your breaths, repeat “thank you” to yourself—appreciating your body for what it can do, and yourself for taking the time out of your day to do it.
Gratitude shouldn’t be reserved for once a year. Infusing it into your daily life can result in extraordinary benefits both on and off the mat. All you have to do is start!