Find gratitude through yoga this Thanksgiving season
Yoga practitioners often talk about practicing yoga “off the mat” and “in the real world.” That’s because, quite simply, yoga is not the things you do while on a mat in a yoga studio. Yoga is the moment your heart fills with gratitude — whenever and wherever you may be. Yoga is the heartfelt emotion you bring forth toward any and all life activities.
So, during the month of November, with Thanksgiving on the horizon, here’s a tip for how to share gratitude and to appreciate life’s abundance.
Across the globe for time immortal, humans have considered the palm-touching-palm-at-the-heart gesture as a sign of deep respect. For yoga, the same is true. Interestingly enough, while religions traditionally reserve this gesture for prayer, Indian yoga communities show palms to the heart as an everyday greeting, just like shaking hands. But for yoga communities, each daily greeting is not a ho-hum “hi.” Each greeting is a chance to compose your heart and to show gratitude toward one another.
Contrast such shared gratitude with the daily rat race: Our minds on a hamster wheel of thought, our eyes constrained by stress, our hearts and hands emotionless. If there is thankfulness, it is half-hearted or feigned? Yoga asks us: Is a life devoid of gratitude and empathy worth living?
Surely the answer is “no.”
And yoga says the antidote to such lifeless living is to composing your heart and recognize the abundance in your surroundings.
First, get your thoughts off the hamster wheel by listening to the ambiance around you. Sounds are the key to composure. Second, lighten your gaze and soften your lips. By making your person lighter and softer, you become more receptive. Third, whenever possible, place your hands in the palms to heart gesture. These hands embrace and gather emotion. With a few easy breaths, feel your gratitude abound from the heart. Finally, and most importantly, share that feeling!
Always remember, it’s not what you do that’s important, it’s how you compose your heart to do it.
Charlie Higgins is affectionately known at many Holiday Retirement communities as "Yoga Charlie." Charlie is a graduate of Reed College and a certified yoga instructor. Charlie specializes in yoga for retirees, and he teaches at a number of Holiday communities in the Portland, Oregon area. His classes focus on range-of-motion, peripheral awareness, balance and breathing. As a guest author for Holiday Retirement, Charlie is excited to share fun, safe and easy tips for senior health & wellness. Explore more exercises by Charlie. Or visit his website: www.samdhyayoga.com.