Why is it difficult to feel gratitude?
Gratitude is something that we’re often told we should feel more of to feel happier but it’s not as easy as all that. Nothing is when it comes to changing the habits of our brains. We have evolved to ruminate on the negative and be prepared for the worst in order to cope with the dangers our ancestors faced. Therefore it’s going to take time and effort to turn the mind down a different path. The good news is that yoga helps with this.
How yoga helps with gratitude
You can think of your yoga practise as helping you to lift the mind out of its usual rut. Our minds will run down the paths they always run down unless we take some time to practice mindfulness. This is what we’re doing when we move with the breath, notice the way our body responds to various asana or postures, pay attention to the contact between the body and the floor. All these parts of our yoga practice can act as a way of relaxing the mind out of any rut it is running in at that time.
Have a go at this in your next yoga class
You may have already noticed that after a yoga class you see a problem or an argument in a different way. I know I have avoided a few rows with my nearest and dearest by hopping onto the mat first! In our classes at the end of the asana practice there is always an opportunity to lie in savasana or corpse pose. This can be used as an opportunity to set the mind down new paths, in particular to thinking about gratitude. Why not try this next time you lie in savasana, or perhaps on the walk or drive home afterwards? Think about what you have to be grateful for, having access to a yoga class for example! Finish your gratitude practice by seeing if you can fill you entire body with a sense of gratitude just for being alive.
My promise to you
I try to do this gratitude practice every day and I promise you it’s a lot easier now than when I started. What helped me start was knowing that this was something I could improve with practice. So have a go and let me know in the comments how you get on or if you have any questions.
If you want to know more about the effects of gratitude on the brain (hello dopamine!) I found the article ‘The Grateful Brain‘ by Psychology Today really interesting.