Yoga is a beautiful practice that invites us to connect to our breath, to honor ourselves and others, and to invite gratitude into every aspect of our being. Ancient yogic practices such as asana, meditation, mantra and mudra can help us connect to deeper layers of ourselves, which allow us to embrace gratitude, love and compassion more immensely.
The specific practice of gratitude yoga can help us bring forth all we are thankful for. Sometimes what we find hard to express in words, we can feel by engaging in physical movement through asanas and stillness through meditation and breathwork.
Consider these gratitude quotes which highlight the numerous benefits of cultivating gratitude!
- “It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy.” -Brother David Steindl-Rast
- “Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.” -Rumi
- “The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.” -Robert Holden
- “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” -Melody Beattie
Ways To Practice Gratitude Yoga
Through the use of yogic tools, we can learn to illuminate gratitude in all aspects of our lives. Here are some suggestions for a gratitude yoga practice:
Set Your Intention
At the beginning of your practice, set your intention for gratitude. There are several ways to do this:
- Use the Anjali Mudra (Prayer) to enhance your connection to your heart space.
- Bring one hand or both hands to the heart; feel your heartbeat and anchor to the present moment. Bring to mind one thing you are truly grateful for in this moment. Take several long, deep breaths here.
- Spend five minutes journaling and writing down all of the events, interactions, things, personal attributes, and people in your life that you’re grateful for.
You may also want to add mantra and/or affirmations such as:
- “I am gratitude”
- “I am grateful for all I have and all that is on the way”
- “Thank you” or “Dhanyavad”, which is a Sanskrit expression of gratitude
Connect With Your Heart Space
Now that you’ve set your gratitude intention, here are a few asana suggestions that will help you to bow into your heart space:
- Baddha Virabhadrasana (Humble Warrior Pose) with arms long at side or fingers interlaced behind back
- Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose)
- Uttana Shishosana (Puppy Pose)
- Balasana (Child’s Pose)
On days where gratitude might not feel as easily accessible, practice asanas that open the heart space such as:
- Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
- Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx Pose) or Seal Pose
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with raised hands
- Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose)
- Malasana (Garland Pose)
- Camatkarasana (Wild Thing Pose)
- Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
- Supported Reclining Heart Opener (Setu Bandhasana Variation)
Allow yourself space for rest and stillness in a way that feels comforting to you. It could include a longer Savasana or a restorative pose such as Supta Baddha Konasana (with blocks under the knees) or Bridge Pose (with a block under the hips).
Using the ideas above, try adding in some or all of these practices to fill your daily cup with more gratitude. Yoga is a practice; each day can feel different than the one before so it is important to approach each day with thankfulness and presence to meet ourselves exactly where we are. Studies show that when we cultivate gratitude, it shifts how we interact and approach others and the world around us. The more we see the blessings in our lives, the more we open our hearts to all that is gracious and good. This makes us happier and healthier.
Try using these yogic practices to embrace gratitude in your own life and see how it can shift your perspective!
Alexa Bull is an Ayurvedic Health Coach, Yoga Teacher and Aromatherapist based in Brooklyn.