If you’ve ever been to one of my yoga classes you have probably heard me say, “We will begin our practice with awareness. It’s a good way to begin our practice, and it’s a good way to begin our day. And, we end the practice with gratitude — it’s a good way to end the practice and a good way to end the day.” I have added another component — appreciation.
Think of awareness as observing yourself from a distance — no judgement, just being aware of how you feel, notice if you are holding any tension or tightness in your body, and being aware of your breath. Then, intentionally slowing down your inhales and lengthening your exhales. This simple practice is like a cooling balm for the parasympathetic nervous system.
Think of gratitude as something external, outside of yourself. The first things that often come to my mind are my family members and my sweet golden retriever, Lola, my friends, my physical life. I am often grateful that my friends and family accommodate my gluten issues, which keeps me included in whatever festivity or activity we are celebrating. Gratitude can be anything even something seemingly small like feeling the rain on our skin.
Gratitude and appreciation are different. While gratitude is external, appreciation is something internal. It is the things we can’t see but we feel them. For me, appreciation is often tied to my health, but not always. For example. I appreciate that I am healthy enough to teach yoga classes. I appreciate that I can walk several miles today. When I was diagnosed in 2015, I couldn’t make it through a yoga class much less teach one and there was no way I could walk even a mile in one day. Some days I was doing good just to get out of bed!
Awareness, gratitude, appreciation — thinking about these things each day continues to transform my life and brings me more joy and peace. It is a great practice for yourself or for yourself and your partner.