Monday, April 13, 2015

6 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude Through Your Practice



(GaimTV) Gratitude. It’s such an overheard and overused word, and yet, how many of us really feel it enough? What is gratitude, really? What does it really mean to be grateful for something? If we are to be grateful, we must first be present. Gratitude requires that we be present, and that we give our full attention to the moment. It requires us to shift our attention out of our head and into our heart. And then even lower: into our core.

In the core, you can tune in to a deeper sense of calm where your inner being knows, with a deep knowing, that all is good. From this place we can more fully appreciate where we are. The core is a place of power and calm and from this center we find the ability to feel love, appreciation, and gratitude in our heart. The core is the connection, the heart is the expression and the mind is focused on breathing mindfully so as to stay present in the here and now.

What are the moments when I feel the greatest gratitude?  

Without a doubt they are when my son, my dog and my husband are with me. The moments when I feel fully grateful for all of their love and for their presence in my life, is when I stop my mind from wandering around: thinking about all the things I think I have to get done. I stop and I notice my son, only sixteen months, with his chubby little hands, his adorable cheeks, his laugh and his complete trust in the world and me. I notice my dog with her adoring eyes and gentle heart, her peaceful nature and ability to love fully and unconditionally. I notice my husband with his sparkling eyes that are full of love, his smile, and his heart overflowing with love and devotion for us.

These are the moments I feel the greatest gratitude; I am brought to my knees with gratitude, appreciation and love for all of the blessings in my life. The more I notice and practice mindfulness, the more I become aware of the details and the abundance in my life.

It’s easy to be grateful for the blessings in your life (especially the obvious ones like a healthy and loving family), but what about the not so obvious blessings? The ones disguised in difficulty, pain, heartbreak and even trauma? These are more difficult to appreciate, and yet we know that they are teachers in disguise. Yoga helps us to find the positive in the difficult, to find the calm in the strength (Shtirah Sukham Asana). Learning to look for the positive and to cultivate santosha (contentment) even in the face of difficulty is a practice. The more you bring conscious attention to it, the more it will become a pattern in your brain and the easier it will be to find that sense of appreciation even in the face of hardship. Fake it ‘til you make it!

6 practices you can bring onto your yoga mat and into your daily life to help you cultivate gratitude

1. Practice heart openers for overflowing abundance and joy. Poses like Anahatasana (Puppy Dog), Ustrasana (Camel), Urdvha Danurasana (Wheel) and Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge with knee down) open the heart chakra and help you feel appreciation and grace.

2. Hip opening poses such as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon), Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard), Gomukhasana (Cow Face) and Agnistambhasana (Fire log) are great for releasing compassion. Compassion towards others and ourselves is necessary to fully feel appreciation for all the teachers and lessons that have come our way.

3. Twisting poses like Ardha Marsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes), Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolved High Lunge) and Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose) detoxify the body and mind, helping you clear out negative emotions and create space for more contentment.

4. Practice inversions to add a sense of fun to your day and feel playful and full of joy. When you feel gratitude, your heart is full and you feel great. Poses like Pincha Mayuransansa (Feathered Peacock), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) and Halasana (Plow) will not only reverse the blood flow and bring more oxygen and blood to the brain, they will also give you a new perspective on life and reconnect you with your inner child.

5. A regular meditation practice will relieve stress and anxiety and help you develop more mindfulness as well as compassion. With less stress and a calmer mind, you are freer to notice and focus on things that bring joy and fulfillment to your life.

6. Off the mat, one of my favorite ways to increase my awareness of the beauty and joy in my life is to keep a gratitude journal. I keep a small journal on my night table and every night, before bed, I write down three things for which I am grateful. Sometimes they are small, sometimes they are great, but in this way you draw attention to the good in your life and end your day on a positive note, with a heart full of gratitude.

Original article source: http://www.gaiamtv.com/article/6-ways-cultivate-gratitude-through-your-practice

About the author

Mother, wife, and yoga teacher, Fernanda is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle that embraces exercise, mindfulness, community, and compassion.  For her, yoga is an inward journey to connect to our infinite wisdom.  She is an Oregonian living in Switzerland with her husband, son, and dog, who remind her daily what it means to live a life full of love and joy.





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