So here we are in May. Every month has something special about it, something we can feel especially grateful for. This month is special because of Mother’s Day. Mothers tirelessly see to the smooth running of the house and family while often managing a job as well. My mother used to quip that every day should be Mother’s Day, and she was right, but at least once a year we can make a special effort and express our gratitude in some way.
Gratitude is a very expansive attitude. It resides along with a sunny disposition so typical of someone whose heart is open and thankful. A study has also found a positive link between this grateful disposition and physical health while other studies have established that gratitude is effective in the realm of psychological well being. It is said to increase one’s contentment and reduce feelings of depression.
“Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret and depression, which can destroy our happiness,” says Robert Emmons, a world-renowned researcher into gratitude, “It’s impossible to feel envious and grateful at the same time.”
When one is grateful they are more content with what they have rather than focusing on what is lacking. According to other studies those who regularly feel grateful also have enhanced empathy and reduced aggression. Feeling more at ease within, they are less likely to retaliate when met with unkindness or criticism.
Feelings of gratitude are important for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Gratitude is important for successful relationships with others and important also in the development of our spiritual wellbeing. One can cultivate feelings of gratitude by appreciating the small things in life as well as the large and not dwelling on the illusory gratification we think we would get from what we don’t have.
It’s easy (and important) to bring gratitude into our physical yoga practice. In fact a grateful attitude is more likely to keep us safe and not striving to push our bodies beyond the limit. Instead, we are grateful for what we have and what we can do. Gratefulness for the wonderful asanas which are so helpful for our body and mind will also help us to be eager to regularly practice, and who knows, it might even be incentive for the body to cooperate with strength and flexibility.
Yoga is a gift, life is a gift. Let’s be thankful for what we have and not unreasonably hankering for what we don’t have.
If you would like to know more about how to actually feel grateful in a yoga pose that you wish you could do but find really difficult, uncomfortable and possibly even bad for your health, check out this month’s pose which I have broken down into easy steps you can stay at comfortably and achieve many of the benefits of the full pose.
By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training