Thursday, November 26, 2015

Teaching Thanksgiving in a Yoga Class: Rejoicing

black friday
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed. 

In the United States, it is the beginning of Thanksgiving weekend. Over the next several days, many people will travel extensive distances, in order to celebrate this traditional harvest holiday with family and friends. Thanksgiving honors the great wealth and abundance in our lives. This wealth and abundance may come in the form of money, or it may be in the form of enriching experiences, close family relationships and friendships of all kinds. Traditionally, the Thanksgiving holiday celebrated the abundant harvest that was gathered during this season. At the present time, the abundant harvest often takes the form of a really good Black Friday sale! 

However for some Yoga practitioners, the Thanksgiving holiday may generate feelings of lack and poverty when they compare their own lives with the lives of those around them. When this happens, it may be difficult for a Yoga student to feel grateful for the good things in his or her own life. Truly speaking, the vast majority of us in the United States have access to clean drinking water and good food, almost all the time. In this simple way, many of us have more abundance in our lives than other people do in many areas of the world. In addition, if we're able to pay for a Yoga class and practice in a beautiful studio for an hour or longer, we are truly blessed with a substantial level of financial abundance and good physical health. 

If you decide to teach the underlying virtue of gratitude in a Thanksgiving Yoga class, you will help your students to see that their cup is usually half full and not half empty! By weaving in the awareness of gratitude into a Yoga class, you will help to uplift your students' spirits, when they shift their internal focus from what they're missing to the good things in their own lives. Recently, I was watching a lecture about the teachings of Buddhism, that was given by the young head of a well-known Tibetan Buddhist lineage. In this dharma talk, the Karmapa spoke about one of the primary branches of Tibetan Buddhist practices: rejoicing. 

The practice of "rejoicing" is geared towards cultivating an inner sense of happiness and well being. I have found that many Tibetan meditation practices can become quite complicated, however the practice of shifting one's mind from a negative thought pattern to one of rejoicing is quite simple and will very quickly shift one's internal state from negativity to the fullness of gratitude. Over time, by consistently shifting a negative pattern of thinking to one of gratitude, you will be able to help your Yoga students to ameliorate the negative thinking patterns, which are often the underlying, cause of depression and anxiety. 

A wonderful way to weave the virtue of gratitude and thanksgiving into a Yoga class is to begin your class by reading a passage from a poem, piece of literature or sacred text that focuses on the exuberant essence of rejoicing. You may also want to ask your Yoga students to share one aspect of their lives for which they are grateful. For instance, you may want to dedicate a brief period of sharing uplifting experiences, positive insights or other beneficent aspects of their lives, at either the beginning or ending portion of a Yoga class. In this way, you will be integrating and nurturing an uplifting awareness of thanksgiving into your holiday Yoga classes.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at:

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Please feel free to share our posts with your friends, colleagues, and favorite social media networks.

1 comment:

parvezbdjsr said...

The practice of "rejoicing" is geared towards cultivating an inner sense of happiness and well being. Thanks for good posting!