It’s US Thanksgiving, time for turkey and thankfulness! But you don’t have to be slurping stuffing (or even be celebrating the holiday, oh my Canadian brethren) to take this as an opportunity for a moment of appreciation. Here are five poses to celebrate the day and connect more deeply to a sense of gratitude and well-being.
1. Cat / Cow
Start on all fours and slowly start to arch and round your spine. Go beyond the usual cat/ cow and move your spine in all directions. Use these simple movements to reconnect to your appreciation for your body. Enjoy the feeling of stretching your shoulders, spine and low back. Take some deep appreciative breaths and relish your body.
2. Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation)
Has it been a couch potato kind of day? Never fear. Do three rounds of sun salutations to get your circulation going and mobilize your joints. Sun salutations are a great way to increase your energy and connect to your breath. Sun Salutations were practiced facing east in the early morning. As you move, enjoy this opportunity to appreciate how the sun has lit our world and given energy to everything in it. From the brussel sprouts to the turkey, everything owes its existence on earth to that star.
3. High lunge with a backbend
Ahhh, time to stretch! Not only will high lunge stretch out your hip flexors (just in case you’ve been spending the day watching football), taking the arms up helps stimulate lymphatic drainage and create a welcome opening through your chest. Daily posture often encourages us to collapse the chest and close the front body, which can restrict breathing and diminish a sense of emotional openness. As you take your arms above your head, stretch your heart forward and up as you root strongly through your feet. Bring your upper arms back behind your ears and fully stretch through all your fingers. I call this pose the “full body yawn.” Enjoy it.
4. Seated Twist
If you’re going to be eating like a champion, then twisting is a must. When we twist, we give the internal organs a squeeze and massage, which can aid in digestion and elimination. As you twist, take some deep breaths to allow the diaphragm to move downwards into the abdominal cavity and move your viscera. Breathe deeply, and know that you’re giving your body some serious love.
5. Gratitude Meditation
Developing a practice of gratitude has been shown through research to enhance a personal sense of well-being. Come into a comfortable cross legged seat or sit on the edge of a chair. Place your hands on your thighs and let your shoulders relax. Relax your face and your jaw. Take a few, slow deep breaths to settle into your body. When you’re ready, bring to mind one simple thing for which you are very grateful. It could be a person, a pet, a place…or anything that you feel really brings value to you. Let yourself contemplate this source of gratitude for at least ten slow breaths, feeling any changes in your body. Take your time. Feel free to repeat the gratitude exercise with something else that comes to mind. When you’re ready, take a few breaths and transition back into your body. As you open your eyes, bring your gratitude practice with you off the mat and into the rest of your day.
A Thanksgiving present for you. I often say that my mind that has a lot of “hamsters.” (These hamsters are relentless thoughts that race through my brain like crazed furry creatures, including on holidays.) If you need a moment of levity today, check this out. Watch for at least 20 seconds.