Gratitude is a powerful positive emotion that can be easily cultivated through daily practice. It’s been shown to improve mood, decrease depression, improve relationships, and reduce stress. In fact, research shows that practicing gratitude can lead to an overall happier, healthier, and longer life. There are many ways to practice gratitude in daily life—jotting down your thoughts in a gratitude journal, writing a gratitude letter to someone you’d like to thank, or making a gratitude jar to fill with little notes of appreciation. One of the most powerful ways to reap all of these amazing benefits is integrating gratitude into your yoga practice.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is the act of expressing appreciation and thankfulness towards something or someone in your life. Feeling this emotion affirms the goodness that surrounds us and recognizes and appreciates the source of this goodness. It is a natural human emotion that arises spontaneously, yet it can also be actively invoked, learned and strengthened.
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Why is practicing gratitude important?
When we are grateful, we are able to let go of the negative thoughts and feelings that keep us stuck in the past or fearful of the future. When we feel grateful, we feel good inside and our happiness levels increase. When we combine a gratitude practice with yoga, we learn how to cultivate positive emotions and well-being on and off our yoga mats. By focusing on gratitude while holding difficult yoga poses, we learn to look beyond our problems and challenges and focus on the good things in the present moment.
How yoga helps with gratitude
The practice of gratitude yoga is a great way to cultivate a positive state of mind. In gratitude yoga, you will learn to express gratitude towards others and yourself. You will learn to appreciate all aspects of your life, including your relationships, work, family, home, and community.
Besides cultivating a state of gratefulness, practicing gratitude yoga can also help you develop a deeper sense of inner peace and a greater ability to persevere through challenges and difficulty.
Nine benefits of gratitude yoga
- Gratitude yoga helps us be more grateful. When we practice gratitude yoga poses and include thankfulness and appreciation in our yoga practice, we create a powerful feedback loop that reinforces our expression and experience of gratitude. The more we practice, the easier it gets, and the more likely it will become a daily habit.
- It makes you happier and improves your mood. A daily gratitude practice has been shown to improve overall mood and mental health. Research has found that participants who practiced gratitude had greater self-esteem, less anxiety, more optimism, and higher levels of energy than those who did not practice gratitude. When we feel grateful, we experience a mood shift towards joy and happiness. We become aware of the good things around us and begin to notice the little things that make us happy.
- It improves your relationships and helps you appreciate others.
Gratitude yoga helps us develop an appreciation for life and those around us. We learn how to accept ourselves and others for who they are and how they contribute to our lives. We become more aware of the positive aspects of our lives and learn to appreciate the things we have instead of always looking for more. The expression of gratitude is infectious, and will encourage other grateful people to be drawn into your social circle.
- It can help you lose weight. Gratitude yoga helps you lose weight because it makes you feel good about yourself and improves your life satisfaction. When you feel self love and cultivate positive emotions, you naturally eat healthier foods and take better care of yourself. It also helps you appreciate your food and slows down your eating which prevents over eating.
- It makes you healthier and can help you live longer. Gratitude yoga helps you live longer because it teaches you how to cultivate a positive attitude. When you think positively, you are more likely to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and financially. You find that you can handle life’s challenges more easily. You will have fewer stress-related illnesses, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. A regular gratitude practice not only improves our mental health but also our physical health. Studies show that people who regularly practice gratitude have lower blood pressure, reduced stress hormones, better sleep, and improved immune function.
- It makes you calmer and reduces stress. Gratitude yoga teaches you how to live in the present moment. When you are mindful of the present moment, you are not caught up in past regrets, future worries, or the stressful demands of the day. Instead, you are fully engaged in the here and now. The positive feelings of gratefulness are naturally calming and soothing and put our minds at ease.
- It can make you more creative and more productive. Gratitude yoga teaches us how to look beyond the negative and find the positive in any situation. When we are grateful, we are able to appreciate and notice everything around us. Our perspective changes. We become more mindful and start to notice things that we might otherwise miss. We begin to feel more positive and optimistic. We begin to think differently. We begin to create new ideas and solutions. It gives us a sense of wonder and awe.
- It can improve your confidence and self-esteem. Gratitude helps us feel better about ourselves. If we have a positive attitude toward life, then we will naturally attract more positive experiences into our lives. Gratitude can become a state of mind where we see all aspects of life as blessings and opportunities to grow and learn. Looking at the world around you through a lens of gratefulness provides the confidence and self-esteem to lean into difficult situations.
- It makes you a better yogi. Gratitude yoga helps us to become better human beings because it helps you develop compassion, love, and kindness towards yourself and others. It helps you see the good in everyone and everything around you. It helps you become more accepting and less judgmental of yourself and others.
A consistent yoga practice has been shown to increase feelings of gratitude, generosity, compassion, and empathy. Besides being a great stress reliever, yoga increases the awareness of our thoughts and emotions. We learn to observe how we react to situations, whether good or bad. By becoming more aware of our actions, we gain insight into ourselves and how we relate to others. These benefits naturally reinforce the benefits of practicing gratitude.
The practice of gratitude is a key ingredient in our spiritual journey. Gratitude yoga helps us to appreciate the present moment and live in the now. It gives us tools to strengthen the effects of gratitude and to improve our psychological health. Combining gratitude exercises into a yoga practice is a synergistic way to remove toxic emotions and to reap numerous physical and mental health benefits.