Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Add Gratitude to your Practice

Try writing a gratitude list before stepping onto the mat.  The simple act of listing the gifts of life with pen and paper can add so much to any yoga practice.  It's true! 

Long before any semblance of a consistent yoga practice, several people suggested starting my day with a gratitude list.  I sat at my desk the next morning halfheartedly attempted writing one, on one level hoping it worked and the other wanting to prove it a ridiculous suggestion.  It seemed simple but proved difficult while at the same time curiously engaging.   This process continued, and over time, the list grew from ten random listings to a whole page.  

Years later, an instructor in my teacher training program suggested that writing gratitude lists prepared the mind for yoga. This added a new awareness to the daily gratitude list. I soon found that it merged with my developing yoga practice and later with my path as an instructor.  The physical poses opened the body and brought along the mind.  The gratitude list opened the mind which then softened the body.  The combination of the two complimented one another.

Rather than take my word for it just try it.  See what happens.  If it doesn't work than put it aside.  If it does, then keep it.  Here are some simple suggestions how to start a gratitude list.

1. Start with you.  Begin by listing the obvious, you and the gift of being alive.  It could look like this-me, waking up, being alive, my body, being me, etc...

2. Recognize the obvious and simple things.  Hot showers, a bed, sleep, your home and its amenities, clothes, breakfast, a hot cup of coffee, electricity, the car out front.  The list will go on.  There are so many things to write down.

3. Nature provides us with so much.  Here is a great pool from which to acknowledge.  Light, sunshine, rain, snow, stars, trees, there are so many depending on one's preference.

4.  List family and friends. 
It is always helpful to remind ourselves about the people who support us.  No guilt trips just jot down the people that you love and mean something special, wives, husbands, parents, siblings, children, best friends, and those people who we positively interact with on a regular basis.

5. Acknowledge what brings joy.  What is it that brings a smile into a life?  Yoga, travel, hobbies and so forth, it is important to write these down because they give so much to life.  Putting them on paper reminds one of these pleasures.

6. How about your career? Yes, our work is a huge part of our life.  We spend a huge part of our lives working.  One can list a vocation, work place, colleagues, and clients.  Maybe, this is a tough spot? Then, this practice might open up the eyes to actual good things in the arena of life.  

7. Remember the lessons of life. Every day teaches us so much if we open our eyes to these lessons.  It can be through the guidance of a teacher or through a challenge in life.  Regardless, we learn fresh perspectives and new ways in which to engage the world and in our daily affairs.  Thanks for those lessons.  

Start your gratitude list.  See what happens as you discover all the wonderful benefits in your life.  Share what you discover and pass on the joy.  Namaste