Gratitude is the practice of acknowledging and honoring what you already have and do, and it’s been proven to actually increase your well-being. For instance, being grateful improves mental health and increases your happiness. Plus, it’s free and can be practiced all year long! These 3 Yoga Poses described here will help to inspire gratitude.
Expressing gratitude can be as simple as:
- Writing a thank you note to a friend.
- Jotting down five to 10 things in your life you are grateful for each day.
- Offering a handshake.
- Giving a hug.
- Smiling at others.
Regardless of how you do it, practicing gratitude can help you get out of your head and gain a fresh perspective by reminding you of the positive things in your life and focusing your attention on someone else’s well-being.
But first, here are three ways to incorporate gratitude into your yoga practice.
3 practices to incorporate gratitude
1. Set an intention.
One way to inspire gratitude is to set 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 you finish your yoga practice.
2. Say a mantra.
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.
3. Every pose your “gratitude pose.”
Make every pose your “gratitude pose.” Each time you do each 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.
It can be hard to live in a constant state of gratitude, but you can learn to cultivate it by practicing yoga. Next time you’re on your mat, try these three yoga poses that inspire gratitude. For the best results, hold each pose for five to 10 breaths.
3 simple Yoga Poses that inspire gratitude
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This gentle hip-opener inspires gratitude as you fold forward into yourself and rest near the earth.
Centering Thought: Find gratitude for your breath—a sign that you are alive and everything is possible.
- Start on your hands and knees.
- Bring your big toes together behind you.
- Spread your knees as far apart as is comfortable for your body.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you and nestle your hips back to your heels.
- Lay your torso forward and rest your forehead on your mat, blanket, or yoga block.
- As you fold, notice the rhythmic in and out of your breath.
2. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
This spine release inspires gratitude as you trust your feet to hold you and allow fresh, oxygen-rich blood to move towards your brain for mental clarity.
Centering Thought: Find gratitude for your feet and all the adventures they take you on.
- Stand with your feet about as wide as your hips.
- Bend your knees slightly and fold forward.
- Relax your head and neck and allow your arms to dangle.
- Open your eyes and look down.
3. Final Resting Pose (Savasana)
This pose inspires gratitude as you rest completely and let go of all tension.
Centering Thought: Find compassion and gratitude for your own journey, for all of your strengths and all of your struggles.
- Find your most comfortable, fully reclined resting pose. (You may enjoy a rolled up blanket under your knees or a soft pillow under your head.)
- Flop out your feet and turn your palms to face up.
- Inhale and feel yourself full and abundant; exhale and let go of any tension you’ve been carrying.
- Rest peacefully with your eyes closed.
Stay in this pose for as long as you want, around 10 minutes or more, if your schedule allows for it. If you’re short on time, remain in Savasana at least until your heart rate slows down and your breath returns to its natural soothing rhythm.
These simple yoga poses described above might just be the best tools yoga has to offer, with huge benefits for your body and mind at any age or stage of life. You might also want to try these other yoga poses.
I‘ve played with more advanced postures, but beginner-friendly, postures and practices seem to offer the greatest long-term benefits with the lowest risk. Without supernatural strength or flexibility, we can mobilize and lubricate our joints, improve our posture and balance, stimulate digestion, boost energy, soothe the nervous system, and create mental focus and clarity, at any age or stage of life.
Original article published by chopra.com