Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am a day late, but, hey- I think every day should be Thanksgiving, anyway. I am invaluably grateful to all of you for reading and supporting my blog. You don’t know how much it means to me. It can be scary posting these things! I am so grateful to know that someone out there is reading.
Last weekend, I held an event at Pace University called “An Attitude of Gratitude,” which was a yoga class and canned food drive hybrid. We had a great turn out! Everybody was asked to get into the Thanksgiving spirit by bringing something to symbolize what they are grateful for as an offering to the altar. We also jotted down what we are grateful for on cute little post-its and stuck those on the altar.
…the “altar.” Guys, it was a cardboard box with a scarf draped over it and a CVS poster board on top. Talk about DIY. But it was much more sacred than that, much more meaningful, because we endowed that cardboard box with the power of gratitude. We graced that poster board with the dynamism of thanks-giving. And, furthermore, we dedicated our practice, set our intention, and flowed in front of that altar. I am so grateful to the open minds of my Pace yogis.
Our flow that day focused on the third and fourth chakras, because gratitude is a gift to not only those around us, but to ourselves. We all want happiness, right? We all seek joy. Remember that quote: “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” Gratitude is just that. Recognizing how good things really are. Putting aside those “I wish I had’s” or “If only’s” and letting the beauty of life sweep us off our feet. We think of Thanksgiving as a selfless holiday- we give thanks to other people and things, and allow any thoughts of ourselves to fall away. However, gratitude and self-love, self-joy, truly cannot be separated. In order to love the life that surrounds us, the people, the places, we must first love ourselves.
There is no joy without self-love. There is no gratitude without joy. Therefore, there can be no gratitude without self-love.
In the spirit of giving thanks (because we should not save that for only one day), I implore you to dedicate your practice, your meditation, or even just your daily errands to cultivating that self-confidence, self-will and ultimate self-love by working with the third chakra, located in the solar plexus, the core. Then, breathe your energy upwards into the fourth chakra, the heart, through which we express love, and ultimately gratitude.
Set an intention for yourself. Something you would like to cultivate for yourself, or to let go of. Close your eyes and try visualizing a yellow hoop around your belly, spiraling around and around. As you breathe in, imagine your breath traveling from your nose and down into your belly, stoking that yellow circle, setting it aflame, the heat rising. Exhale, and imagine you’ve captured some that flame and drawn it into your belly, up and out through your nose. Build heat this way, and then flow, focusing on the core. Try incorporating poses like navasana, virabhadrasana III, garudasana, or bakasana.
Now, dedicate your practice to someone or something you are grateful for. Begin to imagine that yellow spiral floating weightlessly from your belly up to your heart. The flames begin to cool off, and the hoop begins to glow green. This hoop is like a warm breeze, a soft wind, gliding round and round your heart. As you breathe in, imagine your breath traveling from your nose and down into your belly, the air so light that as you fill up with it you start to lift above your mat, floating up into the ether, carried by that glowing green light. Exhale, and imagine that feather-like breath exiting up and out through your nose. Flow, focusing on the heart. Try incorporating poses like bhujangasana, setu bandha sarvangasana, ustrasana, or natarajasana.
I hope this meditation and flow help you to remain in the holiday spirit while maybe working off some of that stuffing and potatoes! According to artofliving.com, one sun salutation burns about 14 calories…that means it’ll take about 27 salutations to burn off that piece of apple pie (vegan of course)! Let’s get started!