For all my yogis in America, this week is Thanksgiving, which has me (and I’m sure all of you) thinking about gratitude (and maybe your full belly). But regardless of where you are and what you are doing, I believe we can all show gratitude for something. Even if it is as simple as the fact that we woke up and got out of bed this morning! To take it further, you have the ability to get on your mat and move! You can take sweet, slow, deep breaths!
Not just something to think about around the family dinner table one day a year, the yoga mat is one of the best places to activate gratitude and then take it with us into our lives. All 365 days of the year.
For these poses no props are needed, however you are welcome to have some blocks handy if you like to use them in your practice.
These six poses come from my 40 minute Morning Gratitude Slow Flow over on my YouTube channel.
This is not necessarily an easy class, but no matter how hard a pose is for you, can you try and find gratitude for the ability to try and to improve.
1. Seated Meditation with Lotus Mudra – Come to a comfortable seat (cross legged, kneeling, or on a block). Bring the base of the palms together, touch the thumbs together, and pinkies together, open other fingers wide. Bring to the base of the heart, connecting the lotus to you. Lift tall and close the eyes. Connect to your breath as you wake up. The lotus mudra is a reminder to find beauty in the hardships. As you settle into stillness think about what you are grateful for. Don’t limit yourself to just one thing, let gratitude free flow. Imagine all of these things pouring into your palms.
2. Modified Side Plank – Take a few rounds of cat and cow. As you return to neutral table top pose, extend your left leg back, roll onto the left heel. Lean onto the right hand, as you reach the left fingertips to the sky. Make a few circles with the lifted arm, then extend the fingers toward the head to get a nice full body side stretch. Loosening the kinks of a good night’s sleep. Bring the left hand back to the ground, stepping into a full plank. Pushing into the hands, try to hug the right knee in to the nose. Return to hands and knees and switch sides.
3. Sphinx – From plank, exhale as you lower all the way to the belly. Slither the forearms in front of you, elbows to palms shoulder width apart, as you open the chest and widen the collarbone. Push down in to the tops of the feet. Shine your heart forward, as you imagine the lotus blooming there. Bring the left forearm to a 45 degree angle, and the right fingertips beside you, opening in to a twist to the right. Look back over the shoulder, staying grounded through the right hip. Repeat the twist to the other side.
4. Hamstring Stretch – From downward dog, step the right foot forward, lower the back knee, raise the hands, tuck the tail, coming into low lunge. Sink into the hips. After holding here, return the hands to the mat and begin to straighten the right leg, folding down over it. In the morning you may find your hamstrings extremely tight, so feel free to keep a generous bend in the knee. Flex the front foot. After some movement through vinyasa, take the sequence on the other side.
5. High Lunge – From downard dog, step the right foot through between the hands again. This time keep the back knee lifted, and reach the hands overhead, coming into high lunge. As you inhale reach up, as you exhale tilt forward bringing the arms down to the sides. OR extend the arms forwards, with biceps along the ears, for some extra fire. Bend in to the front knee, push in to the back leg and lift into Warrior 3. Take this mini flow on the other leg.
6. Low Lunge Flow – Again step the right foot forward from downward dog. Drop the back knee, but this time create a kickstand by reaching the left toes towards the right side of the mat. The left shin will be parallel to the back of the mat, as you turn your body towards the left side of the mat, and upright the torso. Right toes stay pointing towards the front of the mat. Take the left hand to the hip, bringing the thumb and index of the right hand together. Let the back of the hand rest on your right knee as you sink the hips down. Lift tall through the crown. Straighten the front leg, bringing the left hand down to the mat, right hand up and over, finding yourself in another modified side plank. Lean on to the left knee and left palm and float the right leg up. Hold here, or bend into the right knee and catch hold of the foot with the right hand. Push the foot in to the palm to take a nice back bend and shine through the heart. Repeat these moves on the other side.
Did you find gratitude in the ability to try each of those poses?
If you want to try some more, practice the whole 40 minute flow with me in the video below.
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