Photo by cah_1066
Have you ever noticed that yoga is always there when you need it the most? When your breath is short, your chest feels tight, and your shoulders are locked in place somewhere around your ears, yoga is there to help you recalibrate. But how often do you pause and really appreciate everything yoga offers?
When I began this article, I wrote a list of all the ways to appreciate yoga. Then I walked away from it and let it sit. Leaving work one day, I found myself on the precipice of anxiety. I couldn’t pinpoint the source. But I could feel the tight chest, the shallow breath, and the rising sense of panic. So, I focused on my breath. And then I took my own advice. I rolled out my mat and incorporated my list on how to express appreciation for yoga. After a few minutes, I noticed I was breathing freely, feeling calm, peaceful, and ever so grateful.
Here are 15 ways to express appreciation for yoga:
- Arrive a few minutes early to settle into the space.
- Make gratitude a daily part of your practice. Begin or end by giving thanks. Try saying something like, “I am thankful for this space in which to practice, this mat on which to practice, this body with which to practice, and this practice.”
- Make time for your practice and practice the whole allotted time. Don’t leave early.
- If you typically have shorter practices or go to shorter classes, schedule time for a longer practice. Take the 90 minute class instead of the 60 minute class.
- Move slowly. Let your breath set the pace.
- Say or think “thank” as you inhale and “you” as you exhale. Use this mantra with each pose and transition.
- Don’t skip shavasana (corpse pose)! Let your practice and body settle.
- Journal. After yoga, take time to write what you appreciated about that particular practice. This could be a quick list or a longer free write. Just get those grateful thoughts on paper.
- Slowly transition out of your practice and into your day.
- Create a transition ritual. Have a post practice cup of tea or dab your favorite essential oil on your temples.
- Take your practice with you. Return to your breath or even your mantra (thank you) throughout the day.
- Create a designated practice space at home. Build an altar and place only special objects on it that remind you to be thankful.
- Share your practice with someone. Invite a friend to class or schedule a practice date. Discuss what you appreciate about yoga.
- Keep your practice space clean and tidy. At home, have a space to stow your props and keep your altar free of dust or clutter. If you practice in a studio, volunteer to clean it!
- Write a list of what you appreciate about yoga and share it with friends.
Appreciation helps cultivate contentment (samtosha), the second niyama or observance. Feeling thankful requires awareness and brings us into the present moment. Being grateful increases our feelings of well-being and happiness.