5 Yoga & Meditation Techniques To Help You Practice Gratitude

To avoid overindulging and getting swept into the fast and ferocious current of social outings, extravagant desserts, and endless champagne cheering, let's make an intelligent game-plan to stay connected to your healthy lifestyle choices and goals this season.

Here are five wonderful yoga techniques to help you stay on your game during holiday festivities. Thanksgiving is such an energetically powerful time of the year—a time to cultivate sincere gratitude for the countless blessings in our lives. Here's how:

1. Walking meditation.

The holidays can be wonderfully overwhelming and sometimes we just need a little break from all of the social events and gatherings. If you find yourself feeling anxious, rushed, or over-extended, give yourself a gift of 10 to 15 minutes. Wherever you are, find a quiet escape (outside, around the block, etc.) to walk in silence.

The simple experience of alternating steps with the left and right foot naturally helps create a meditative state which helps you to become more present and grounded. Be mindful of each step. Allow yourself to notice your surroundings, such as grass, trees, chirping birds, and the sun on your face. To end the walking meditation, gradually come to a stop, and become aware of the feeling of standing still again. Notice how you feel now, compared to how you felt when you started. Take your newfound awareness and calm with you back to your festivities.

2. Prayer twisting.

Since we tend to eat more during the holidays, it's wise to focus on yoga postures that aid in digestion and detoxification. Twisting helps to detoxify our bodies by stimulating our liver and stimulating peristalsis. From crescent pose, rotate your torso, bringing the left elbow on the outside of your right knee.

Bring your palms together in a prayer position and press into them towards the floor, rotating your right shoulder up and back while twisting your upper back. Look towards the ceiling. Keep your right knee bent and keep the hips sinking down towards the floor. Hold for 5 to 8 deep breaths. Repeat on other side.

3. Bow pose.

Laying on your front side helps to bring blood-flow to your digestive organs, aiding in better digestion and assimilation of your food. Lie on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart and your arms along the sides of your body. Bend your knees and hold your ankles. Breathing in, lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up and back. Look straight ahead, preferably with a smile on your face. After 5-8 deep breaths, gently bring your legs and chest to the ground. Release your ankles and relax. Repeat two more times.

4. Concentrated yogi bicycles.

  • Lie on your back. Lace your fingers behind your head. Keep your knees bent together above your hips.
  • Keeping your knees bend, sit up slightly. This is your inhale position.
  • As you exhale, try to touch the outside of your right arm to the outside of your left thigh while straightening your right leg. d) As you inhale, straighten your core and bring your knee back above your hips.
  • Repeat c on the other side.
  • Repeat 10 times, slowly, on each side.
  • Finish with concentrated bicycles: 1) Twice as fast in speed and 2) half the extension in your legs. Ex: Instead of extending the opposite leg while twisting, simply touch the toes of that foot to the floor or mat, keeping the knee bend. Repeat 20 times each side.

5. Gratitude meditation.

Cultivating and practicing gratitude can reduce symptoms of mild to moderate depression and anxiety, resulting in better mood and sleep. Practicing gratitude can also lead to increases in optimism, vitality, happiness, a sense of wellbeing, and a greater satisfaction with life and relationships. The holidays can be joyous for some and stressful, or even lonely for others.

In both cases, practicing thankfulness (even in times of adversity) helps one to seek and find a “silver lining” in all of their experiences. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and your eyes closed. Being to take deep, slow breaths. Once you feel centered and present, mentally list five things you are grateful for in your life and give your thankfulness to those people and/or things.

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