YogaJournal.com is challenging you to get in the season’s thankful state of mind with gratitude-geared practices all month long. Share yours using #yjgratitudechallenge.
What is the very first thing you do in the morning? Be honest. Check your email? Open Instagram? Brush your teeth? Meditate? Your sunrise thoughts and actions are incredibly important, because they set the tone for your entire day. Going immediately into an intention practice before you do anything else is like setting your internal GPS. It sets you up to navigate your life with greater grace and ease, regardless of what unexpected twists and turns arise. Here’s how to get grounded, centered, and grateful in just 5 minutes before you even leave your bed.
Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
With both hands over your heart
From a kneeling position, sit back onto your heels. Keep your spine long. If you have pain in your knees, place a pillow between your heels and sitting bones. Place both hands over your heart and take 5 deep Ujjayi breaths, inhaling and exhaling through the nose. After your fifth breathe, pause for a moment and think of one thing you have to be grateful for on this day.
Doing this practice before you do anything else is transformative because there’s no interference between you and your heart’s most natural sentiments of gratitude. Picture, sense, and imagine this focus of gratitude fully and feel the inner smile that arises. Keep this focus of gratitude in your mind throughout the remainder of the practice.
Balasana (Extended Child’s Pose)
With palms together
Separate your knees as wide as your hips and bow forward, refocusing on your intention. Extend your arms, allow them to relax, and press your palms together. Take 5 more slow deep breaths here, expanding the capacity of your lungs as you expand the capacity of your gratitude.
Return to sitting on your heels in Vajrasana with your hands resting on your knees. If you have pain in your knees, you can also take any other comfortable seated position. Inhale to arch your spine, drawing your hands toward your hips and gazing upward. Exhale to round your spine, drawing your hands forward to your knees and gazing in toward your navel. Repeat this sequence of movements 5 times to awaken the power of the heart chakra.
Simple Seated Twist
Stay seated in Vajrasana or switch to Sukhasana (Easy Pose). Inhale to lengthen your spine. Exhale and twist to the right, placing your right hand behind you and your left hand on your right knee. Take 5 deep breaths in this twist and slowly turn your head to look over your right shoulder to get a complete twist of the spine. Return to center as you exhale. Repeat on the other side.
Seated Sun Salute (Surya Namaskar, variation)
Inhale to lengthen your spine and extend your arms overhead, bringing your palms to touch. Exhale and draw the palms down to your heart in Anjali Mudra. Repeat this movement 5 times. Namaskara means “to bow or salute.” After your fifth round, pause for several deep breaths with your hands at your heart center with even pressure between them. Return to your focus of gratitude. Anjali means, “divine offering, gift, or prayer.” Take this moment to offer thanks to your gift of gratitude, say a prayer, and set an intention for your day.
About Justin Michael Williams
Justin Michael Williams is a vibrant public speaker, musician, and successful yoga instructor who travels the globe training the conscious community to thrive in marketing, media, and business. He has spearheaded the marketing development and social media of over 150 brands, both large and small, including, Sianna Sherman, Ashley Turner, Noah Mazé, and more. He is also the Co-Founder of the Business of Yoga, LLC and hosts Yoga Business Retreats around the world, helping yoga teachers flourish in business. By using his expertise to coach individuals and nonprofits, Justin works to spread positivity and inspire change throughout the social web. See more at justinmichaelwilliams.com