Cultivating Gratitude Through Yoga
With so much going on each day and with all the distractions that we are bombarded with, it’s easy to forget or not see the simple joys of our everyday life – as well as the importance of gratitude. Yet, practicing gratitude can help us to find more peace and contentment, while guiding us to find more pockets of joy in our day.
I don’t know about you, but at this stage of my life I am all about trying to find the little “wins” each day. I have taken to rephrasing the things I have to do to “things I get to do”. It is not always perfect, but I find it really does help me feel better.
Yoga is a practice that combines physical postures, breath control, meditation, and mindfulness. Those are all powerful tools for cultivating gratitude. Before we get to this month’s chair yoga sequence: Chair Yoga For Gratitude, let’s take a quick look at how yoga can help us to develop and nurture a gratitude practice. Plus we have some simple tips to help us add a gratitude practice to our daily life.
6 Ways Yoga Can Help Us Explore Gratitude
1. Mindful Awareness
Yoga teaches us to be present in the moment. As we flow through poses, we focus on our breath. This allows us to become more aware of how we feel, as well as our environment. We hope that this heightened awareness extends beyond the yoga practice and into our daily lives. When we practice mindfulness, we are more likely to notice the small moments that we often overlook – a cool breeze, the sound of a bird, or a butterfly passing by. This mindfulness can be our first step toward gratitude, as it allows us to fully experience and appreciate the present moment.
2. Body Awareness
Yoga encourages us to connect with our bodies and treat them with kindness and respect. Through regular practice, we can develop a more clear understanding of our physical capabilities- and our limitations. This can help us find more appreciation for our strengths and abilities rather than only focusing on the negatives. We can learn to be thankful for the strength, flexibility, and resilience that we do possess.
3. Cultivating A Compassionate Mindset
Yoga philosophy emphasizes the importance of cultivating a compassionate mindset. By practicing self-compassion on the mat, we can extend that compassion to ourselves and others in our daily lives. This shift in perspective can help us focus on what we have rather than what we lack, fostering a sense of gratitude for all that we possess.
4. Gratitude Meditation
We often incorporate meditation into our yoga practices. Gratitude meditation is a wonderful way to cultivate feelings of thankfulness. During a gratitude meditation, we focus on the things we are grateful for- both big and small. By regularly setting aside time for gratitude meditation, we can train our minds to seek out and appreciate the positives around us. I know this is not always easy- but with time we can do it.
5. Letting Go of Attachments
Yoga philosophy teaches us the importance of non-attachment. Aparigraha is one of the Yamas- or code of ethical behavior in Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga. This is the idea that we should not cling to material possessions or external circumstances for our happiness. It reminds us to take only what we need at the given moment. By incorporating this philosophy into our daily life, we become less dependent on external factors for our contentment and, in turn, become more grateful for the simple joys of life.
You can learn more about it here: The 5th Yama-Aparigraha
6. Connection With Others
Yoga classes- whether practiced live or at home on video- can often provide a sense of community and connection with others. These connections can lead to a greater sense of belonging- and not just with the people you are practicing yoga with. Building meaningful relationships in the yoga community can help us to find a sense of gratitude for the people who enrich our lives in other areas of our life.
Cultivating gratitude through yoga can be a wonderful experience that can lead to a more joyful and fulfilling life. By incorporating mindfulness, self-awareness, and a positive mindset into our yoga practice, we can take all those things into our daily life and we can be open to the beauty of the present moment.
Of course, it won’t all happen overnight! There are no quick fixes and lasting change takes time. Remember it does not have to be perfect or look like anyone else’s journey. If “all” you do is sit or lie down and take a few deep breaths for a couple of minutes- you have already started.
Keep reading if you are interested in 10 simple ways you can get started with a gratitude practice today.
10 Simple Ways To Help You Start A Gratitude Practice Right At Home
1. Gratitude Journaling
Keep a journal or notebook specifically for gratitude. Each day, write down something that you are grateful for. It could be one- it could be five. They can be simple things like a warm cup of coffee in the morning, a message you received from a friend, or even the weather. Consistency is really the key here. So if you choose to give this a try, aim to write in your gratitude journal daily.
You don’t need any fancy books- a piece of paper is fine. Although, some people may find it easier to stick with this habit if you have something specific that is designated for this purpose. You can find some examples here:
Promptly Journals–This brand of journals offers a variety of styles for various age groups and milestones as well as Gratitude Journals
Simple Daily Gratitude Notebook
5 Minute Gratitude Journal
2. Morning Gratitude Ritual
Try starting your day with a gratitude ritual. As soon as you wake up, try to take a moment to reflect on something that you are grateful for. This can help us to set a positive tone for our day and helps us to focus on the good things in our lives. Nothing fancy or complicated here- just a simple way to help us shift our mindset. Start small and don’t overthink it.
3. Gratitude Jar
This can be a fun one if you have children or grandchildren – but it is good for anyone. Try placing an empty jar in a visible location in your home. Throughout the year, whenever something makes you feel grateful, write it down on a small piece of paper and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, or whenever you need a boost of positivity, you can read these notes and it can help you reflect on the good things in your life.
4. Gratitude Meditation
I just mentioned this one, but if you already have a meditation practice, you can incorporate gratitude into your meditation practice. During your time of meditation, you can focus on the things you are grateful for. You can start to practice visualizing those things in detail and see how it makes you feel.
If you don’t have a meditation practice, you can easily start one- really you can! There are so many videos out there to help you get started. If you have 10 minutes, just press play and listen to these guided meditations for gratitude. Don’t worry about sitting cross legged on the floor, just find any position that allows you to be free of distractions for a few minutes. You may be interested in these:
Gratitude Meditation – 12 minutes
Morning Gratitude- 5 minutes
5. Express Gratitude To Others
Don’t hesitate to express your gratitude to people in your life who have had a positive impact. Write someone a thank-you note or simply tell them how much you appreciate their presence or actions. These simple acts of gratitude can help to strengthen relationships and you will feel better as well.
If you are looking for a gift, these unique bracelets from Etsy spell Grateful in Morse Code and can be customized: Gratitude Bracelet
6. Gratitude Walk
We can take a mindful walk outside in nature and just simply pay attention to what is around you. We may find something new or find a new appreciation for something we always see or hear. Just focus on what is in the present. This can be a grounding experience that can help us feel a sense of gratitude and calmness.
7. Gratitude Before Meals
This is an easy one to add to our daily routine. Before we eat, we can take a moment to express gratitude for the food on our plate and the hands that prepared it- even if that is also you! Then we can go a step further and have a mindful meal- we can try to free ourselves from distractions of electronics and devices and focus only on the meal and see how we feel.
8. Reflect on Challenges
Challenging times come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes we never see them coming and sometimes they feel like they are ever present. As hard as it is, challenges and difficulties can also teach us valuable lessons. We can spend a few moments and reflect on past challenges and consider what we have learned from them. We may surprise ourselves at what we have had the strength to overcome. We can express gratitude to ourselves for the growth and strength they’ve brought into our life.
9. Gratitude App
There are smartphone apps designed to help you cultivate gratitude. These apps often provide daily prompts or reminders to focus on what you’re thankful for. I am not very tech savvy and I like the old fashion way of paper, but some find these very useful and productive. Here is a review of some, although I have not used them personally.
11 Best Gratitude Apps To Increase Your Well being- Positive Psychology
10. Gratitude Partner
Lastly, sometimes expressing gratitude just feels better when it is shared. Find someone else in your life that may benefit from a gratitude practice and share a daily or weekly gratitude check in. You can do it in person, text, email, or phone- whatever works. This adds a social element to your practice and can help you stay accountable.
Remember that a gratitude practice is a personal journey, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. If this interests you, I suggest you start by choosing one or maybe two ideas and see how it goes. The key is to be sincere and consistent. Over time, you’ll likely find that your gratitude practice enhances your overall sense of well-being and positivity and you may start to practice gratitude without even realizing it.
Let me know how it goes or if you have something you would like to add!
Chair Yoga Sequence For Gratitude
If you are interested in joining me for this short seated chair yoga video (approx. 15 minutes), all you need is a sturdy chair. As always, it is recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before starting this or any exercise program. Always listen to your body and do what is right for you today. Stop this or any exercise immediately if you experience pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness.
We begin by taking a few deep breaths as we ground and express our gratitude. We then move into our gentle warm up, followed by some gentle heart and hip opening movements. We will practice some low lunge variations that will serve to ignite the whole body. We end with a moment in our Bound Angle restorative pose. There is an option to add blocks or books under the feet here, but you are always welcome to skip it and simple find a comfortable position.
Chair Yoga For Gratitude
You may be interested in my Gratitude Practice Journal Pages
If you are new to chair yoga, you may be interested in Is Chair Yoga Right For You?
You may also be interested in the 7 Day Chair Yoga Challenge or the One Week Chair Yoga Challenge
You can also find some more ideas for practicing Mindfulness in the 21 Day Mindfulness Challenge
Or, take a look at Chair Yoga For Motivation
Finally, I invite you to sign up for the Monthly Email Newsletter to stay up to date on the latest blog posts, resources, and videos.
Disclaimer: The Peaceful Chair and thepeacefulchair.com strongly recommends that you consult with your physician before starting this or any exercise program.The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not to be used in place of medical advice or information from your healthcare provider. Neither The Peaceful Chair, thepeacefulchair.com, nor any of its contributors shall be held liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information described and/or contained herein and assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information contained in any links, videos, or any content on this website.