This is a Guest Blog Post written by our Sponsored Yoga Teacher, Michelle Finnerty. She teaches at Vibrance Yoga in Colorado. To learn more about Michelle and her yoga practice, you can visit this page.
It’s a word and mindset that I used to only associate with the Thanksgiving holiday in November, but now thanks to my regular yoga practice…both teaching and being a student, I have learned that gratitude is a daily practice.
As I’m constantly on the quest for yoga inspiration to bring to my classes, Gratitude is a subject that I’ve been reading more and more about, as researchers are discovering that people who are grateful and look at the positive aspects of life are happier and less stressed, living with a sense of wonder and appreciation.
So, how has yoga increased my attitude of gratitude?
My yoga mat is my magic carpet that takes me away from the basic stresses of life and into a world where all that matters is the connection between my breath, body, and mind. Once I am in this space, I can truly feel where I’m tight and where I’m loose. Where I’m holding on and where I can let go. Where I am focused and where I am adrift. Embracing it all without judgment, allowing compassionate awareness to flow through me and out into the world.
Yoga requires a lot of balance, whether you are rising into Tree pose, flying in Airplane pose, or settling into one of the many Warrior poses. Before yoga, I thought balance was all about perfect posture and core strength. While those do play a part, I’ve also learned that balance has a lot to do with focusing the mind. By taking a moment to pause on the mat while settling my focus and clearing my mind, I’ve also learned to pause off the mat to focus my thoughts and actions throughout the day.
When I first started taking yoga classes on a regular basis, I was very competitive and compared myself to others around me. As a result I struggled. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t hold poses, and I wasn’t letting go of stress. Finally, one day when the instructor had us go into handstand and everyone shared their fears of the pose, I realized that I wasn’t the only one bringing my fears and self judgment to the mat and that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. I took a deep breath, tried headstand with the instructors help, and then settled into child’s pose. That day I learned one of the most valuable life lessons from my yoga practice…having belief and love in yourself is one of the strongest assets anyone can have.
Gratitude is now a daily practice for me, both on the mat and off. I am a kinder, gentler person to myself and the world and I owe it all to yoga. Wishing you an attitude of gratitude as you explore your practice and yourself!