Gratitude On and Off the Mat
The holiday of thanks has somehow come and gone in a blink of an eye. As we continue moving through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to let all that we are thankful for slip through the cracks of our awareness. This time of year, in particular, is often associated with “wants” and the things we do not have. During the busy days of winter ahead, can we slow down and continue to take some time to reflect upon what it is that we already have in our lives that we are thankful for?
In my yoga classes the week after Thanksgiving, I have been encouraging students to continue recognizing what it is they are grateful for. At the end of class, I always encourage my students to send some gratitude to themselves for unrolling their mat and devoting the time to the well-being of their body, mind and spirit. Through asana, the physical practice of yoga, we breathe deeply and consciously. We stretch our muscles while simultaneously strengthening others. We cultivate an awareness of body, mind and breath that is beneficial both on and off of our yoga mats. We fall over in balance postures and notice the emotions that arise and dissolve as a result. We become aware of our strengths, weaknesses, imbalances, and our physical and mental habits, all the while cultivating compassion towards ourselves. We allow ourselves to slow down, surrender and listen so we may discover the wealth of information and wisdom accessible from within. For all of this and much more, I am extremely grateful.
So the next time you unroll your mat, I invite you to remember what it is you are grateful for. Below are a few ways to practice gratitude “off the mat”:
* Before making any New Years resolutions for 2013, reflect upon all of the things you are thankful for in 2012. The good ones and even the seemingly negative ones that may have knocked you down for a moment before dusting your shoulders off and standing back up on your feet. Include the more obvious ones such as your loved ones, your job(s), food, shelter, etc. to seemingly simple (yet equally worthy of your gratitude) items such as the smell of fresh towels, a friend’s laughter, your automatic car starter, etc.
* Reconnect with a friend or family member you are grateful to have in your life, but haven’t connected with in a while.
* Start a gratitude journal. At the beginning and/or end of your day, make a list of 3 things that you are grateful for. Before you know it, you will have a wonderful list of blessings to read over!
Kristy Kuhn, RYT 500, ACSM-HFS, ACE-CPT Certified Yoga Teacher and Certified Personal Trainer
Kristy was first introduced to yoga during her college dance classes and began deepening her practice when she returned to NYC after graduate school. Yoga provided a shift of perspective and mind-body connection for surviving a hectic, yet wonderfully fulfilling life as a performing artist. Kristy received her 500-hour yoga teacher certification through YogaWorks in New York, New York and is registered through Yoga Alliance. She is also a certified Health/Fitness Specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine and a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise.
Teaching naturally evolved out of her love for yoga and her desire to provide others with the opportunity to experience the wonderful benefits of yoga. She views her role as that of a guide who assists students along their path toward greater self-awareness. Kristy strives to provide a warm, fun, supportive environment with safe sequencing. Students of all levels can turn their focus inward and openly embrace the present moment by experiencing the subtleties of breath and alignment.
Kristy additionally holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and dance minor from Bucknell University where she taught as a Visiting Assistant Professor in 2009 and 2011. Kristy continues to dance professionally in Boston with Weber Dance and loves integrating her passions for movement, science and learning through her studies of yoga and other movement disciplines.