During this past month as we celebrated Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, we took the opportunity in Yoga and Mindfulness classes to focus on all the LIGHT in our lives and practice gratitude and kindness. By using lots of words to describe feelings of gratitude (thankful, lucky, fortunate, blessed etc.) we learned that gratitude was taking a moment to reflect and appreciate things that we often take for granted (for example, waking up in the morning and saying Mode Ani- מודה אני) and how fortunate we are when something good happens- whether it’s a small thing or a big thing. The students took time to reflect on things each one was grateful for. They created a ‘map of my heart’ and wrote/drew all the things they appreciate and care about and shared how grateful they are to have them. We also practiced Heart Openers (chest opening poses- Cobra, Bridge, Warrior etc.) because when the heart ‘opens’ we become more compassionate and connected to everything around us, reducing any tendencies towards isolating ourselves (heart openers also counteract today’s relentless hunching).
Why Practice expressing gratitude? Throughout the year we will continue to explore, discuss, practice and learn more about the benefits of practicing gratitude.Sometimes, feelings of gratitude happen spontaneously but we can also create feelings of gratitude by deliberately slowing down (to notice what’s around us) and paying attention each day to things we are glad to have in your life. Simply focusing for a minute on the experiences in our lives for which we are grateful shifts our thinking to a calmer, more content perspective.