Yoga For Gratitude
The first time I hopped on a yoga mat, the only goal I had set for myself was just to give it a try. Since then cultivating a steady yoga practice for myself has changed my life but it was certainly not an easy or straightforward journey.
I dabbled with local studio classes and following along to various YouTube videos. I liked the sense of community of being with a bunch of other bending, stretching, sweaty humans but nagging doubts and comparisons to my classmates always rumbled darkly in the back of my mind. I’m not as flexible as she is. Wait, did I forget to breathe during that pose? I’m shaking so badly in this plank right now, and that dude over there looks cool as a cucumber. My wrists hurt! Ugh. Why am I even here? I edged myself towards the home practice.
Doing yoga on my own terms, by myself was freeing — too much so. I skipped my daily yoga sessions constantly or I slid right into child’s pose when things got too challenging. I was kinda sorta doing yoga, but mostly watching videos of other people doing yoga and feeling ashamed about it.
Then I found Yoga with Adriene:
Adriene urged me to light a candle, get comfortable, take alterations to the poses as needed, listen to yourself and find what feels good (Adriene’s mantra). During the Yoga for Gratitude practice there was a moment where Adriene asked me to meditate and think of what you’re grateful for and immediately a rush of thoughts collided into my mind all at once. My partner, my parents, my friends, the roof over my head, the yummy food I get to eat, the vacations I have to look forward to, the privileges I’ve received in my life through both luck and hard work. I felt overwhelmed with goodness, and my thoughts wandered, I didn’t stick with my breath.
Gratitude and Breath
If you feel stuck and you don’t know how to start feeling gratitude towards yourself and for the body you live in simply start by taking a deep, slow breath. Feel the air filling your lungs until your chest just starts to hurt and relish in the sweet release as you exhale. Even if you’re overwhelmed, overworked, stressed, try and feel grateful for that moment. You are alive, you made the choice to take that breath, you are in control of your breathing.
Self-Care and Yoga
Self-care can mean a lot of things these days; long baths, massages, face masks, a glass of wine. Those are all important things, especially when they mean you’re listening to yourself and what you need. I find that that can be as simple as taking a moment to recognize I need to take a deep calming breath or to drink a cold glass of water. Or maybe I do need to lovingly burn a candle and carve time out of my day to enjoy a yoga practice and be grateful I can do so.
Gratitude is Growth
Towards the end of the video Yoga For Gratitude Adriene asked me again what I was grateful for. This time there was no bombardment of many thoughts, there was only one: I felt gratitude towards me. I was so thankful that I showed up for myself and just my being here, by actively participating, I manifested a tiny change for both my physical and my spiritual self. Gratitude is growth, the acceptance that every day I can become a little stronger, breathe a little deeper, stretch a little further. You yourself hold the power in your life to grow when you show yourself love, kindness, and forgiveness too. I can accept and be grateful for my limitations today because I’m striving for a better tomorrow.
Yoga with Adriene's Grateful Community
That same community feeling I enjoying during local yoga classes I still have, but it’s just online now! User seven23july sums up her experience connecting to gratitude and Adriene’s practice by saying, “I actually created my space today by closing the door to keep my kitties out and lit a candle. :) I've resisted yoga forever because "quiet my mind?!" Say wha??!? I had simply decided I couldn't do yoga; it was too slow and surely running and lifting were the only ways to really workout. Bigger, better, more, louder!! But I finally choose to challenge my thinking and stop wasting energy on a belief that wasn't really working for me anyway. And suddenly I found you. Dang silly universe! It so patiently waits until we open our minds and ears to reveal the information we need. I'm grateful for you because you've shown me how to accept where I'm at, give myself permission to respect my limitations, be free rather than perfect (I was hurting myself anyway by doing it wrong when trying to be "perfect"), be mindful by continuing to check in with my body and its pieces, to focus on grounding into the earth, and most of all that yoga is PRACTICE!”
My only goal when I started doing yoga was just to try it. Now my goal is just to keep trying! One day at a time.