The power of being grateful has immeasurable benefits and as ambassadors of wellness via yoga we not only have the privilege to share our gifts with others on the mat but also instill practices that can help our students beyond the mat and into their daily lives. The practice of gratitude and infusing a yoga or meditation class with reminders can create long lasting effects both in the physical and mental bodies. As instructors it’s an opportunity to connect our students with a deeper sense of wellness and gratitude is something simple and tangible to grasp.
I always start my classes with a dharma talk and many times the topic is related to gratitude. Not only that, but I have an alarm on my phone with a gratitude moment 2x a day and before going to bed I say 3 things I’m grateful for – this is how important the practice of being grateful is in my life and my family’s as well.
Let’s look deeper at what the word gratitude means.
Gratitude as seen in Webster’s Dictionary is “: the state of being grateful : THANKFULNESS” Literally it is being in a state. It is breathing, believing and being in an embodied gratitude attitude. So much magic can happen here as the benefits below will illustrate further.
When teaching an asana class with the theme of gratitude it serves as a reminder to your students to be in a thankful state for having all the gifts, both the obvious and more hidden, in their lives starting with having yoga in their lives. It also helps the student stay present and maintain a positive mindset during the flow or meditation.
Gratitude is a theme everyone can relate to and can benefit from as it’s universal and brings many benefits that will carry wellness beyond the class and that moment, especially if you can suggest other times when your students can practice gratitude.
Apart from infusing your class with the theme of gratitude, you can also incorporate other forms of connecting to being grateful that can add more to your class like having students write it down on a piece of paper and slide it under their mats or using cues that remind them during poses. You can even incorporate shadow work as helping others see mistakes or misfortunes as learning moments can also create a new perspective and new emotions around those instances.
Here are 6 reasons why you should incorporate gratitude in your Yoga classes:
Gratitude in a yoga practice will keep your students more open to the real benefits of yoga like the stress reduction, calm mind and healthy emotional state.When in a state of gratitude the physical body releases tension and will also allow the poses to sit better in the body. The asanas will support the mental state of gratitude and continue to affect the individual after your class. This amplifies the results from the physical and mental shifts you created in your class. New awareness and connections are made from the pose to the action of being grateful for a more intensified effect.
Gratitude keeps your students present and more open to feeling good. According to Forbes, people who practice gratitude tend to exercise more and maintain a healthy lifestyle. By having this be the focus of class, you are helping the practitioners keep their mind on self-care. This will translate for new interactions and relationships in their homes and work and hopefully inspire others whom your students are in contact with.
Gratitude and yoga help detoxify the mind, body and connect to a larger reason for being. One of the goals in yoga is to be pure both in body and mind. Gratitude has been said to help people be less “toxic” in their thoughts by removing anger, violence, resentment and even depression. Having a gratitude based practice will help the aspects of yoga and help strengthen the mind and emotional states to keep balanced. Kindness, empathy, happiness and generosity are some known emotions to be fortified with a gratitude practice.
Gratitude increases happiness! A study done by Psychologist Robert Emmons says “Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage.” He goes deeper in stating the psychological effects like higher levels of positive emotions and being more alert, alive, and awake. Happiness pose series.
Gratitude helps focus! Merely the fact that you are using gratitude as a focus tool helps train the mind on a tangible internal point that relates to their external life. For example, if someone is focused on gratitude, they can choose their family or their home. This is something that is easily connected and can be held as a focus point. In the same vein, using gratitude as a focus point will strengthen your students ability to stay steady with the fluctuations of the mind.
Gratitude strengthens their meditation practice. If we tally up all the benefits stated above, we can deduct that having a gratitude practice infused with yoga will help strengthen one’s meditation. The reason is because if we have created a healthier physical body through asana with all the benefits of gratitude, when we sit and meditate it will be easier! Being able to focus, visualize and be filled with positive emotions creates the perfect scenario for mental stillness.
As you see creating a gratitude practice or ritual during your class can bring about innumerable benefits that have lasting effects. It will help you and your students adopt a healthier view of life, a connection to positive thinking that leads to a healthier lifestyle and way of living.
Come up with creative ways to infuse your class so that you can weave the theme of gratitude more often and keep the students interested and teach them how they can also adopt an attitude of gratitude during their daily routines. Let’s add more gratitude into the lives of our students and make a positive footprint in the world!
Arianne's goal is simple: help people achieve their physical and spiritual goals with a lighthearted approach. With over 10 years experience teaching as a dynamic Hatha-Vinyasa and Senior AcroYoga instructor, Arianne focuses on the healing aspects of yoga to unleash the unlocked potentials in the body, meditation, and connecting within. Through teacher trainings, yoga retreats, healing Thai massage sessions, and Miami's pioneer of Zrii Ayurvedic Products, Arianne can create changes in people's lives for the better! As co-owner of TRIO Studios based in Wynwood, Miami, Arianne teaches workshops and trainings across the world. The broad horizon of her experience infuses her classes with fun and the sense that one can achieve anything. Arianne's expertise in yoga, acrobatics, and Thai massage helps students to build their own well-balanced understanding of the practice through the use of clear, technical teaching skills, compassionate adjustments, breath connection, and intuitive body awareness.