Yoga and Gratitude
Gratitude is something we often forget about on a day to day basis. Sure, we try to maintain it, appreciating that we have things that we want, like good jobs, and grateful that we don’t have things that we don’t want, like bird flu. But, no matter how hard we try to have it, in every day life it’s easy to lose; gratitude often falls through the cracks like the ease of car keys becoming lost in the cushions of a couch.
Gratitude is a virtue or law that manifests gratefulness, appreciation, and thankfulness. It is thought of as the first law of attraction, the springboard from which a pathway towards moment to moment self awareness gains momentum. It is what allows us, as human beings, to grow.
When it comes to yoga, some may assume that gratitude means tipping your instructor at the end of class. However, gratitude and yoga actually go hand in hand, with each affecting the other. This actually makes a lot of sense, considering both gratitude and yoga are strong advocates of self awareness and mindfulness – they on are the same team, coaching each of us on how to ease into the flow of life, rather than bumping up against life and losing sight of what we are thankful for.
Yoga promotes a person’s emotional and physical well being. And, as studies have shown, so does gratitude. It’s as if both are vitamins for the soul. Yoga and gratitude both improve a person’s ability to handle stress (which directly impacts physical health) and improve the way a person interacts with others. Both also rid the body of negative emotions, replacing them with positive ones. When this happens, good health generates itself.
Many people likely find gratitude in exercise at the end of a workout, grateful that their arduous routine is over and they feel refreshed. But, yoga isn’t merely about working out, and it’s not just about exercise.
Yoga and gratitude are on the same wave length, as if cast from the shell of positive thinking. Gratitude, because it’s a way of looking at things, and yoga, because it teaches people to embrace the present moment, are naturally able to enhance each other. Gratitude is a way of deeply appreciating the full spectrum of life – the good and the bad, the joy and the suffering. Yoga provides a mindful practice to invite one to respond to the full spectrum of life from the highest place with in oneself. Gratitude teaches people to gain peace of mind. So does yoga. Because both gratitude and yoga feed off of each other, practicing the two together will enhance the benefits of each one. Yoga is a practice that opens the gateway into the wellspring of gratitude that resides within you.
But gratitude isn’t limited to yoga, of course. Being grateful in all aspects of life is essential to a person’s well being. Appreciating your family, your friends, your job, and anything else conducive to happiness facilitates your physical and emotional health.
But, just like other things that are important to health – exercising, eating right, getting adequate sleep – the concept of gratitude can be one that is hard to make adhere. Like mentioned before, gratitude can be easy to lose in the couch cushions of life. But, there are a few tricks of the trade aimed at helping gratitude flourish.
Setting aside a few moments a day, perhaps five or ten minutes, to just reflect on what it is you appreciate today can be helpful. Another thing that can be helpful is getting a small notebook and writing down three or five small things that you are grateful for, like the sunshine, the time to reflect, clean clothes, and a warm cup of tea. Writing is a great tool for self reflection, writing down thoughts of what are you thankful for helps you cultivate gratitude. So much of our health and overall well being is determined by the way we think, programming our brains will program our lives.
Many of us still remember, as children, roaming the halls of our elementary school and walking underneath a sign that read, “Attitude is Everything.” Rolling our eyes at it in childhood angst, we probably didn’t buy this concept. But, as adults, we’ve come to realize that it turns out to be true. Remember, “For Everything, Give Thanks.”
TWISTED is a medical yoga studio at the Center for Osteopathic Medicine in Boulder, Colorado. Twisted integrates osteopathic medicine, hatha yoga and mindfulness practices to teach optimal balance between physical, mental, and emotional health. It aims to educate and help people to live a healthy life from the inside out. Rehabilitation programs offer a comprehensive treatment regime for the whole being, empowering each person one breath at a time to stimulate the body’s natural healing potential.