Some lessons from our parents stand out above the others. I remember my Dad telling me that the people who are happiest are the people who are the most grateful. What an inspiring lesson. It took me a while to really appreciate its power.
A couple of years ago, I saw followers of Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love) sending photos to her of their Gratitude Jars. They had decorated them and every day would write what they were grateful for on slips of paper and put them in the jar. I decided to do that as my New Year’s resolution that year, and on the following New Year’s I spent an hour reading and reminiscing over all the wonderful things that had happened. It was such a beautiful tradition.
This year, I’ve kept a journal with the same intention. I was also challenged on Facebook a few months back to post 3 things I was grateful for every day for 7 days. It was a nice additional exercise because I tried to write something different and unique each day. The really great thing about it was that throughout the day as I noticed something beautiful around me I would think, “This is what I am grateful for today”. I actually found it challenging to list only 3 things at the end of the day!
I love incorporating this theme into my yoga classes as well. I’ll sometimes ask students to think of one thing they are grateful for that day. It could be something small like, “I am grateful that there wasn’t traffic and I made it to class”. Perhaps it’s something more personal like, “I’m grateful that I am over that cold/flu”.
Then, at the end of class, I like to carry on something that I learned from one of my teachers, Anne Van Valkenburg (whom I am very grateful for!). I ask my students to take a moment of gratitude for their body. We tend to take our bodies for granted. We sometimes need to be reminded that we are lucky to have bodies that are healthy, injury-free, pain-free, etc. We all know that there have been times when that was not the case. I also like to take a moment of gratitude for the yoga practice. You might be grateful that you were able to make it to practice that day, or you might be grateful for how your practice has changed your life.
I would love for each of you to experience this same joy of practicing gratitude. Consider starting a Gratitude Jar or journal on January 1. Keep in by your bedside so that you can capture the magical moments of your day before you fall asleep.
“If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings…”
~Bing Crosby, Count your Blessings (instead of sheep)
Hayleigh Zachary is a yoga teacher and teacher trainer in Los Angeles. She teaches classes with a strong foundation in alignment and breath. She loves teaching how you can take your yoga practice off the mat and in to all aspects of your life! You can find out more about Hayleigh at her website: www.hayleighzachary.com