It is said that one of the habits of happy people is expressing gratitude often and liberally. And isn’t happiness the ultimate goal, shared by all, right alongside of health? Yoga is a path that leads to both. Yoga, being a physical, mental and spiritual practice of calm presence, can be practiced with intention. Intention is what gives a yoga practice focus, purpose and meaning.
Choosing an intention for your practice doesn’t have to be difficult or confusing. Simply pick something that holds meaning for you in that moment, something that will direct your focus back to the present moment when your mind begins to wander or chatter. Intentions can change with each practice, or you may choose to commit to one intention for an extended amount of practices. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. As long as your intention feels good to you, then it is the right one.
Over the course of some years within my own practice, I have discovered that there are some intentions that never lose meaning for me, no matter what day it is or what mood I’m in: breath, self-compassion and gratitude. I have already discussed the first two in past blogs, so let’s dive into gratitude.
Gratitude is the “quality of being thankful.” Thankful means “pleased and relieved.” When you direct your mind to focus on thanks, you move yourself to feel pleased and relieved. By setting the intention of gratitude for your practice, you do just that: practice gratitude. And, as they say, “practice makes perfect.” By revisiting gratitude within each posture, every time your mind may stray, through inhales and exhales, you experience being perfectly thankful. This thanks will spill over into life off of the mat, allowing you to experience pleasure and relief in all areas of life. This is not to say that suddenly your problems will all disappear and life will be perfect. It simply means that you have learned to shift your perspective and take control of your own happiness in life by choosing to focus on gratitude.