Good Day World – Watch how I start my day!  With an Attitude of Gratitude.  I swear I think that is what keeps me sane, even keeled and humbled in a good way.  I find as I continue to practice yoga in all its forms, that my day has more space in it.  It is within that space that I am able to pause.   These pauses are initiated with my breath being long and deep.  And it is in the pauses, that a feeling of gratitude comes bubbling up.

Some of these pauses contain a cathartic release of pressure but most of them, are small tinges of gratefulness (perhaps small in scope but important nonetheless for the big picture).  Here is my latest list of what I am grateful for (as of 1:43 p.m.)

  • that my Internet is working
  • Aetna actually responded in a timely fashion to a question
  • seeing small buds on my blueberry bush
  • one daughter who cleans her room and is organized
  • one daughter who thrives in chaos
  • this new balancing ball chair I am sitting on which allows me to work on this blog without shoulder pain (yeah!)
  • my yoga practice
  • my teachers (all of them)
  • music
  • the view from my room as I work (my window to the outside)

I reflected on all of that in the past 4 minutes of typing.  I poured my love and energy into each of those things that I am grateful for.  Somehow, somewhere, I feel that it makes the world a better place.  I trust in that.

The Inspiration (did you ever notice this word begins with Inspire – to breathe or blow into as in life)

Cultivating gratitude is not only good for the universe but has important health benefits as well.  They include better sleep, fewer physical illnesses, and a better ability to copy with stress.   You may also experience a greater feeling of over all well being.  Take out your journals and begin some gratitude entries.

Gratitude Meditation with Breath

Sit comfortably. Close your eyes and, for a few moments, focus on the gentle movement of your breath.
Then begin pausing briefly after each inhalation and exhalation.

As you inhale, visualize receiving the elements of your life – experiences, people who have touched you, things you are capable of – with gratitude. Pause after each reflection and take a moment to integrate and appreciate feeling fulfilled by these gifts.

As you exhale, imagine sharing that sense of fulfillment with others. Pause again and imagine others – your family, community, the world at large – receiving your offering with a similar sense of gratitude.

Continue this cycle – inhale/pause, exhale/pause – for several minutes, and then shift your focue back to the subtle movement of your breath before opening your eyes.

Source: Yoga Journal, December 2008
The Breath
Elevator Breath
Come into a comfortable seated position, supported.  Check in first with your natural breath, simple awareness for a minute.  Then begin to breath in for a count (2, 3, 4, etc.) and breath out for that same count, silently keeping the count.  Stay with the first count for a minute or two, then increase the count by 1 or 2, even breath in and out, for a few minutes.  When you feel you can increase again, do so.  Building up the breath little by little, deepening progressively both the inhalation and exhalation.    Finally return to your natural rhythm of breath and notice any effects from the breath.

The Poses
Karen’s Pool Float (Thank you to my lovely models and Karen for the pose)

Props: bolster, 3 blocks, 2-3 blankets, cushioning for arms (neck rolls work)

Benefits: Increase circulation to legs and gentle lengthening of muscles in legs,  release tension in low back, shoulders, realign spine, support breathing and opens chest congestion.

Set up bolster against the wall on end, support with additional block.  Set up blocks for arm rests diagonally on either side of bolster.  Make two blanket rolls, one for under knees and one for head rest.  Additional blanket can be used for low back or sitting on.  We used soft neck rolls for arm supports to cushion.  Sit back on bolster and extend legs straight out.  Spiral in legs in Tadasana (some ankle support may be necessary).  Forearms rest on blocks either palms up or down.  Open throat with neck align with rest of spine.   Soft belly.  

Revolved Abdominal Twist

Props: bolster, 3 blankets, 1 extra blanket for warmth and or laying on lower back to ground

Benefits: Gentle twist for the spine (quadratus lumborom) Releases stress on the back muscles and a stretch to the intercostal muscles. As muscles relax, breathing is enhanced.

Set one bolster lengthwise on your mat.  Depending upon your comfort, height can be elevated with blocks under bolster. Lay one blanket on top double-fold and one double-fold at end of bolster where your right hip will go. Sit next to bolster with your right hip touching it, bend knees, left or top ankle can lay in arch of right foot or other comfortable position for feet. For added comfort, place blanket between legs. Lengthen body over bolster, laying bent legs in one directions and upper body facing down on bolster. Arms drape down sides of the bolster.