5 Yoga Poses For Gratitude That Will Open Your Heart Up When You Need It Most
Practicing gratitude is such an important part of life, and it's even more prevalent with Thanksgiving right around the corner. As a yoga teacher, I like to include heart-opening poses in both my classes and my own personal practice so that my physical body can mirror all of the mental and emotional appreciation I strive to cultivate. Incorporating yoga poses for gratitude in your own practice will really transform your flow as the holidays approach, as these movements will help you gain a whole new perspective on the amazing things you're already thankful for in your life.
TBH, in the midst of all the delicious food and the Black Friday shopping, the true meaning of Thanksgiving can easily get lost in the shuffle of it all. While I'm all about finding great deals at the mall after I'm done feasting on pumpkin pie, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, I think we can all benefit from reminding ourselves what we should be thankful for not just now, but around the entire year. It's so important to find moments that allow you to ground yourself and really meditate on what you're truly grateful for in this life.
These five yoga poses are a great way to open up your heart so you can fill that space with clarity, energy, and graciousness. Give them a try this holiday season, or really, any time at all, so you can always come back to and appreciate the little blessings that life brings.
1. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra pose opens the heart and lungs, literally making it easier to breathe more fully, and filling your body with glowing gratitude from head to toe.
It can be tempting to dive right into this asana because of its rejuvenating properties, but it's important to practice it with a bit of caution, because going too deeply into the backbend without warming up first can potentially cause strain or injury.
Start with your elbows bent, and slowly begin to straighten your arms, gauging how your body feels as you roll your shoulders down your back.
On your inhale, close your eyes and savor the spacious feeling that you're creating. On your exhale, release any tension you might be holding onto in your body.
2. Wild Thing (Camatkarasana)
Between traveling to see friends and family and spending hours in the kitchen cooking up elaborate dishes, Thanksgiving can, indeed, get a little wild. That's why there's no better time than now to try incorporating this pose into your flow.
According to Yoga Journal, the Sanskrit name of wild thing poetically translates to "the ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart." Does anyone else get chills just from reading that?
Enjoy the sensation of opening up your chest and shoulders as they find space and freedom in this pose. Allow gratitude and appreciation to radiate out from your heart space.
3. Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana)
Even after practicing yoga for about three years, this pose is still pretty difficult for me. Having said that, the most challenging asanas serve to remind you how growth is always possible. Remember to be thankful for your strong, beautiful body and all that it's capable of, in addition to the friends and loved ones you appreciate in your life.
As you breathe deeply in this pose, take the time to thank both your body and your mind for all they do for you each and every day.
4. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Camel pose is a deep backbend and juicy heart-opener that complements the spirit of Thanksgiving perfectly.
Make sure your back is nice and warm before trying to touch your heels in this asana. Remember to keep your toes tucked if you notice any uncomfortable feelings in your lower back and sacrum.
Focus on leading solely with your heart in camel pose. Too often, the mind takes over everyday actions, and the perpetual mental chatter overshadows the purity of the heart. Let gratitude lead you, and trust that it knows the way.
5. Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
Chakrasana is another deep backbend that feels amazing after long periods of sitting (hello Thanksgiving traffic), and opens up space in both your body and your mind for a healthy dose of gratitude.
Warm up for this asana by doing a few rounds of bridge pose first. When you're ready, begin to make your way into a full wheel. Pretend that you're squeezing an imaginary block in between your legs, as this will get rid of any unnecessary compression in your lower back.
As you breathe, savor the openness in your chest and lungs. On your inhale, think about each and every single thing that brings gratitude into your life. Exhale anything that doesn't serve you, and smile to yourself for the things that do.