Commit to taking a moment each morning this month for gratitude. Make your list, post it, share it, and tag us @yogajournal and #yjgratitudechallenge. We'll show our thanks for you by sharing our favorite reader posts on Thanksgiving Day. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter all month to get in the spirit as master teachers share their own lists and grounding tips. Here, Leah Cullis, leader of YJ’s upcoming Pillars of Power Yoga course, details the benefits of this daily practice and shows us how to get started.
Gratitude is the act of acknowledging, appreciating, and aligning with all of the goodness in life. And a regular gratitude practice is one of the fastest ways to anchor into what is real, true, and good—and create more of that! You know the saying, where your mind goes, energy flows.Who wouldn’t want to try it?
How Leah Cullis Started Practicing Gratitude
I used to travel a lot for work and I’d often wake up in a panic on the road. I had moments where I’d forget what city I was in or why I was there. And most days I started working as soon as I got out of bed. Starting my day by reacting to my busy mind was setting the tone for how I was living my life: I felt depleted, like I could never get ahead and never had enough time. I knew something had to shift.
Eventually, I adopted a gratitude practice first thing in the morning to help align me with my purpose as I began each new day. The first moments of the day are ripe for creation and focus, so your morning ritual holds a lot of power. By taking time to give thanks for all the blessings in your life, you start to energetically amplify them.
I start each morning with my gratitude list and keep going until I come to a natural stopping point. Some days I spend more time and get more specific: Thank you for the amazing meal I made last night and shared with friends, the opportunity to teach and practice yoga, for my bed and my partner sleeping next to me, for a project I get to work on, and all the people who I get to learn from each day. Other days I leave it at I’m grateful for this breath and roll out of bed. Each day’s content is different but the practice remains the same. Now, learn how to try it.
The Short-and-Sweet Daily A.M. Gratitude Practice
By choosing to focus on all the good in your life in your first waking moments with this simple practice, you will start your day feeling centered, appreciative, and focused on the positive. Commit to adopting this daily practice for the next 30 days. Before you get out of bed in the morning is a great time to practice gratitude, aligning with your best intentions before your feet even touch the floor. (If you forget, any other time during the day is great too!) Here’s how:
- In the first moments that you are awake, keep your eyes closed and take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself, “What am I grateful for today?”
- Make a mental list (or a written or verbal list) of all the things you are thankful for, listing as many as you can to express your gratitude. Shine your light on everything that is going well!
- When you come to a natural stopping point, say one more thank you. Open your eyes, set your feet on the earth, and begin your day grounded in gratitude.
Your Gratitude List
Your gratitude list will be unique to you and what’s happening in your life right now. Here are a few things I usually include:
- Family and friends
- Weather, sunshine, trees
- Practices that keep me grounded
- My home, city, and community
- My health and wellness
- My teachers and students
- Opportunities to love, connect, share, and expand
Make your morning gratitude practice your own. Choose a ritual that works for you, and let it be easy. You can think, speak, or write what you are grateful for each morning. The power is in the practice of giving thanks, not how it’s done.