Expressing gratitude, gratefulness, and thankfulness feels really good, and research shows it is good for us. The practice of gratitude “allows for positive attribution, which has been shown to protect against stress and depression” and gratitude can also increase one’s overall life satisfaction. It is awesome that we have a national holiday dedicated to giving thanks, but research in positive psychology has shown that to increase your levels of happiness a daily practice of gratitude is essential. Fortunately, the many paths of yoga give us several techniques to bring an attitude of gratitude on to our yoga mats.
The simplest approach to incorporating more gratitude into your yoga practice is to use a sankalpa or intention. Creating an intention of feeling and expressing gratitude at all times, and across all situations, can be a powerful guiding force in your yoga practice. If you need something more concrete and accessible, you can also start or end your practice by reflecting on three recent life experiences that you are thankful for.
Another easy way to add some gratefulness to your hatha yoga practice is to incorporate more upper body opening poses—especially asanas that activate the heart and throat chakras. If you already use these poses, try holding them for a few more breaths than you normally do. You can also supercharge these asanas by remembering and focusing on your gratitude sankalpa while practicing them.