Gratitude is the practice of appreciating what you already have and do. Expressing gratitude regularly has been proven to increase our well-being. Because of this, yoga and gratitude are often linked and used together in a yoga routine. While it’s great to practice gratitude on the yoga mat, it’s beneficial to find it off the mat, too. Regardless of where you do it, practising gratitude can help you to open your mind and gain a fresh perspective. Reminding yourself of the positive things in your life can increase your mental well-being. However, living in a constant state of gratitude can be hard, particularly if you’re not used to it. Thankfully, you can learn to cultivate it through yoga. Below, we explore a selection of yoga poses that inspire gratitude.
The first posture in the sequence is Child’s Pose. As you fold forward into yourself, this hip-opener inspires gratitude by resting your head near the earth. To practice Child’s Pose, begin by kneeling on the mat. Next, take a deep breath in and sit back on your heels. As you exhale, walk your hands out in front of you until your chest is resting on the mat. If you like, rest your forehead on the mat and relax your arms by your sides. You are in Child’s Pose. Hold the asana for one minute while finding gratitude for your breath.
Seated Forward Fold inspires gratitude by turning your attention inward. To practice the asana, begin seated with your legs together and your hands by your sides. Lift your chest and lower your upper body towards your legs. Engage your abdominals and imagine your stomach moving towards your thighs. You are in Seated Forward Bend. If you can’t bend all the way, don’t panic! As long as you feel a stretch through your upper and lower back, you’re doing just fine. As you breathe deeply, think about one area of your body for which you are particularly grateful.
Supported Reclining Heart Opener inspires gratitude as you allow your body to be supported and your heart chakra to open. Throughout the pose, think about a friend or mentor from who you’ve learned a lot. Allow this thought to inspire feelings of love and gratitude. To practice the asana, begin by finding a bolster or yoga block. If you don’t have either of these, a rolled-up blanket will work just as well. Next, set your prop down and sit with your back facing it. When you’re ready, gently recline so that the prop is under your head and upper back. You are in Supported Reclining Heart Opener. Rest your arms by your sides with your palms turned up and allow yourself to relax into the support. Hold the asana for as long as it feels comfortable to do so.
Standing Forward Bend inspires gratitude as fresh, oxygenated blood flows towards your brain. To practice the asana, stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Hinge forward at the waist and begin to lower your upper body toward the floor. To minimise pressure on the lower back, bend your knees generously throughout the posture. Next, take hold of your ankles and let your body hang naturally toward the floor. You are in Standing Forward Bend. Hold the posture for one minute whilst breathing deeply. To increase the stretch, gently sway your torso from side to side. Throughout the pose, appreciate your feet and all the journeys they take you on.
Mountain Pose is a powerful stance that inspires gratitude by opening the heart. To practice this asana, begin standing with your feet together. Press down through your toes as you spread them apart. Tense your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps, then lift yourself up through your inner thighs. As you lift your chest, draw your stomach in and up and press your shoulders down. Bring your shoulder blades together to open your chest, keeping your palms facing inwards. You are in Mountain Pose. Hold the asana for around 30 seconds whilst breathing deeply. Throughout the posture, find gratitude for your dreams and ambitions and the unknown excitement of the future.
Low Lunge inspires gratitude as your feet remain grounded while your arms reach up to open the heart. To practice Low Lunge, begin by standing tall on your mat. Step your right leg forward and lift your hips up and back until they are sitting directly over your left knee. Next, raise both arms up and press your hips down until you feel the muscles engage. You should feel a stretch in your outer hip of your left leg. You are in Low Lunge. Hold the asana for 30 seconds before repeating on the other side. Throughout the pose, find gratitude for a certain aspect of your life or a personal talent that you appreciate.
Resting Pose inspires gratitude as you relax completely and release any tension in the body. To practice the asana, find your most comfortable, fully-reclined position. You may find it comfortable to place a rolled-up blanket under your knees or a pillow under your head. Next, let your feet fall to the sides and rest your hands on the mat with your palms up. Take a deep breath in and feel your lungs fill up. As you exhale, release any tension that you’ve been carrying. You are in Resting Pose. Rest peacefully for around 5 minutes, keeping your eyes closed. As you rest, find gratitude for your strengths, struggles, and personal journey.
Yoga and gratitude go hand in hand. If you’re hoping to cultivate gratitude, practice the sequence above. Appreciating the positive things in your own life can make you more aware of the well-being of others. If a close friend could benefit from cultivating gratitude, treat them to a yoga gift card. You can then practice together and work towards a positive future.