5 Ways to Infuse Your Yoga Practice With Gratitude

If you're one of the 62 million Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton, it may be hard to feel thankful when you're carving the turkey (or tofurkey) this year. But there's always something to be grateful for, says master Baptiste Yoga teacher Leah Cullis.
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If you're one of the 62 million Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton, it may be hard to feel thankful when you're carving the turkey (or tofurkey) this year. But there's always something to be grateful for, says master Baptiste Yoga teacher Leah Cullis.
Leah Cullis performs Prayer.

If you're one of the 62 million (and counting) Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton, it may be hard to feel thankful when you're carving the turkey (or tofurkey) this year. But there's always something to be grateful for—even if it's just the breath of life running through you at every moment, says master Baptiste Yoga teacher Leah Cullis, who leads Yoga Journal's upcoming Pillar of Powers course.

"I think that when we feel we have nothing to be grateful for, that's an illusion. In every moment, even in the darkest of times, there's always light," Cullis says. "The practice of yoga teaches us to look for that light." Take time to do just that with these 5 ideas from Cullis for infusing your practice with gratitude, on Thanksgiving and every day:

1. Give thanks.

As soon as you take your seat or your forehead hits the ground, give thanks for the opportunity to be on your mat. It's not always easy to make the time to practice, especially in these last two months of the year. Start aligning with everything that went right to get you there.

2. Set an intention.

Setting your intention means setting your energetic aim for your practice. Each time you get lost or distracted, use your intention as a reminder to come back or re-align with why you came to you mat, and what you’re really about. Pause between sides with your hands at your heart center, and come back to your intention and your breath.

3. Focus on what you CAN do.

We all ask ourselves questions like, "Why isn’t my body doing this?" or "What is the teacher talking about? " or "How is that person doing that?" When this starts to happen, pause. Make the switch to give thanks for what IS happening in this moment, and how your body is working for you in this pose.

4. Be grateful for growth.

When new sensations arise, give thanks for the growth. One of the coolest things about our practice is that there is no end to yoga. Learning can look different every time you step on your mat.

5. At the end of your practice, pause for gratitude.

I like to cue my students at the end of the practice—when their energy is still soft and inward and they're rolled over to one to side—to give thanks to their bodies for working for them so willingly. To acknowledge the people and circumstances in your life that have made it possible for you to practice, from your co-workers supporting you to your partner for holding it down at home. And of course, honor yourself for doing the work.

See alsoYJ Gratitude Challenge: Build a Simple Daily Practice