Bringing a Feeling of Gratitude to Your Yoga Practice
The month of November evokes feelings of gratitude in so many ways. Maybe it is because Thanksgiving is a holiday focused on gratitude. Maybe it is because it is a time when family and friends draw closer. Whatever the reason, these feeling of gratitude can help protect against stress and depression as well as increase our feeling of connection and happiness.
In yogic philosophy the Eight Limbs of Yoga detail the Niyamas (personal observances). The second Niyama is santosa or contentment. When we are content and reflect on already having enough and already being enough the feelings of gratitude flow naturally. As we move into our asana practice, we can further invoke gratitude by using a simple, yet significant, hand gesture. Namaskarasana, Nameste position, prayer position, or Anjali mudra are all names for the gesture of pressing the hands together in front of the chest.
How to do Namaskarasana:
• Externally rotate your upper arms bone in the shoulder socket, turning palms forward
• Draw your hands in front of your chest, palms facing each other
• Press pinky finger into pinky finger, ring finger into ring finger, …base of thumb into base of thumb and allow your fingers to extend
• Press outer edge of your hands together
• There will be a small space, where there is no contact, in the center of your hands
• Shoulders gently release away from your ears
• Gently draw thumbs to heart center (sternum/breastbone)
• Allow breastbone to lift slightly to meet the thumbs
• Close your eyes and/or drop your chin toward your chest as you are so moved
By mindfully bringing in this hand gesture to one or several of your yoga poses you may be able to connect with some feelings of contentment or gratitude. This mudra may evoke in you a sense of uniting or coming together, grounding, being centered, thankfulness, balance, connection to your heart, humility, acceptance, or honor. Some of my favorite asanas in which to incorporate namaskarasana include: