Inhale, Thank. Exhale, You.

This Thanksgiving I have so much to be grateful for. I am surrounded by wonderful people, laughing children, and, of course, good food. Football is on the television, and my mom is reading books to my kids. Life is great.

It is good, important even, to have these days to come together with friends and family, and rejoice in the blessing, and bounty that has been bestowed upon us, as well as the things that we have worked hard to have. The tradition of giving thanks every November is nice. But one day each year is not nearly enough. Furthermore, one month of Facebook posts is not enough. And we do not need to orchestrate a large gathering, cook an elaborate meal, dress in seasonally fashionable clothing to feel thankful. Real, sustaining happiness comes for a gritty, resilient gratitude which shows up every day, even on the crummy ones.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, life sometimes sucks. There will be days which are much less beautiful than today. And yet, we can always make room in our hearts for gratitude. I have this friend whose home literally burnt to the ground. The tangible proof of her hard work, and life’s blessings all lost. When life snatched the THINGS she loved dearly from her, she turned to her yoga practice. I know people who have lost loved ones. Even I have taken my mourning heart to my yoga mat, and found a bit of solace.

Yoga does not care what, or even who you have in your life. It does not discount those people or things; it is simpler than that. Yoga is about breathing, and feeling alive. On my mat, it doesn’t matter if I spent days in the belly of despair, or basking in the glow of my family’s love, I can find gratitude in the most basic of things in my practice.

Each breath, flow, or pose can be like a small prayer. Inhale, thank. Exhale, you. It doesn’t matter who or what great power you are thanking, simply that you allow space for gratitude. It doesn’t matter who or what you have gratitude for, simply that you remember that there is always something to be grateful for. The power of yoga is that it refines all things down to your breath. Yoga does not care about where you live, or who you love, or what you are wearing, or what you eat. Yoga simply says, if you are breathing that is enough. There might even be days that the poses themselves are out of your reach. And yet, if you allow yourself the space to sit in silence, and feel your body breathing, you have much to be thankful for.

Today, Thanksgiving, wallow in gratitude. Let yourself soak in its sweetness. But tomorrow, as you go shopping, or avoid shopping, eat leftovers, or go to work, remember there is much to be thankful for. This body that holds your spirit. This breath that brings you life. This life that is ever changing. Stop, and remember to feel gratitude for even the simple things, today and every day, on and off of your mat. Let every day be an echo of giving thanks.

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