Traditionally during the month of November, I dedicate my yoga classes to gratitude.  Inspired by the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a good time to reconnect and perhaps strengthen the art of appreciation.  And what better time than in our current economic climate to be thankful. 

The students and I have been agreeing that most of us are having to dial back our spending, create a tighter budget and give up many of the things that we do for recreation so that we can stay afloat in these harsh economic times.  As we give up the things we have habitually become attached to, it’s not uncommon for certain feelings to follow; resentment, defeat, sense of lack, impatience, even anger or depression.  It becomes that much more challenging to be grateful when we are “forced” to give up many of the things that seem to give us pleasure. 

As we let go of 125 cable channels or trips through the drive-through restaurants to save money, what we are left with are more of the essentials which support our foundation of living.  Many of us agree that after the initial sting of letting go of some of these things, we notice that, maybe we didn’t need them so much after all.  Can we then be grateful for what is here?   Can we truly begin to appreciate that which is not transient or store bought? 

In class we have been practicing being grateful for the “healthy body that brought us to class.”  Just that.  I’ve asked students to mentally thank the body and it’s various parts as they move through class: for example, after virasana; “thank you knees”.  It sounds a bit silly at first, but notice that we don’t think it’s silly to tear down the body mentally or verbally: “I’m so fat!”  “Look at those wrinkles,”  “If only my hair were straight,”  and a host of many other self-depricating remarks we don’t think twice about saying.

I’ve compiled a list of gratitude quotes from writers, philosophers, spiritual leaders…those much wiser than I to exemplify our connection to being thankful.  I’ve been sharing two a night in yoga class and at the request of some students, I am posting a list.  Look on the post called “Gratitude Quotes.”