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Wake Up Gratitude to Feel Better

Gratitude changes you.

Seriously! Gratitude changes the way you think, your outlook on life, and how you approach difficult situations. Gratitude helps you feel better, but how?

What we put our attention on grows. If we always look for problems and focus on the negative, the neural pathways for negative thinking become stronger. Practicing gratitude, on the other hand, shifts our attention to look for the positive in our current situations. And, the more often we practice gratitude the more automatic it becomes.

Gratitude is like a natural antidepressant. When we ask ourselves what we’re thankful for, our brains increase their production of dopamine and serotonin (feel good hormones) and activate neural circuits like many antidepressants do. Therefore, taking time for gratitude and being thankful can naturally cause similar effects and help build feelings of contentment.

What can I do to wake up gratitude in my life?

When we wake up our gratitude, we feel better so try this sequence of yoga poses to get your energy flowing and open your heart to gratitude. This helps us appreciate what is going well in our lives instead of focusing on what we don’t have or wish was different.

This yoga sequence is great first thing in the morning to wake up but it’s also helpful to do any time of the day when you’re feeling a little tired or sluggish.

Sphinx/Cobra Pose

Sphinx pose is a gentler version of cobra pose but both poses:

  • Stretch the shoulders, chest, and abdominal muscles
  • Decrease stiffness in the lower back
  • Strengthen the arms, shoulders, and upper back
How to come into Sphinx pose:

  • Extend your legs while lying prone on your mat.
  • Lift your head, neck, shoulders, and chest away from the floor.
  • Place your elbows directly below your shoulders.
  • Press your forearms and hands into the mat, parallel with each other.
  • Reach your chest forward and up.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Stay for 5 breaths

How to transition into Cobra pose from Sphinx pose:

  • On an exhale, lower your upper body down to the mat.
  • Bring your hands where your elbows were in Sphinx.
  • Lift your head, neck, shoulders, and chest away from the floor.
  • Keep your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Reach your chest forward and up.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Stay for 5 breaths.

Puppy Pose


  • Stretches the spine, shoulders, arms, upper back, and abdominal muscles
  • Opens the throat, shoulders, and chest
  • Relieves stress and anxiety (slight inversion)
How to come into Puppy Pose:
  • From Table pose, walk your arms forward.
  • Keep your hips directly over your knees.
  • Release your chest toward the mat.
  • Place your forehead on the mat.
  • For more intensity, place your chin on the mat.

Stay for 5 – 10 breaths.

Pigeon Pose


  • Stretches hips and glutes
  • Opens the chest
  • Relieves stress
How to come into Pigeon Pose:
  • From Table pose, bring your right knee to the outside of your right wrist.
  • Walk your right foot over to the left. Keep it near the hip for more ease or by the left hand for more intensity.
  • Extend your left leg toward the back of your mat.
  • Sink your hips toward the mat.
  • Reach your chest forward and up.

Hold for 5 – 10 breaths.

Repeat with the left leg forward.

One-Armed Shoulder Opening Pose


  • Stretches the shoulders and chest
  • Reduces upper back and neck pain
  • Prevents “shoulder hunch”
How to come into One-Armed Shoulder Opening Pose:
  • Bring your arms out into a T-shape in a prone position.
  • Come onto your right fingertips.
  • Lift your right leg, bend your knee, and place your right foot on the mat behind you.
  • For more intensity, press into your right hand or reach your right arm behind you and clasp your hands together.

Hold for 5 breaths.

Repeat on the other side.

Supine Figure Four Twist Pose


  • Opens the hips, glutes, and lower back
  • Releases tension around the sacrum
  • Aids in digestion
How to come into Supine Figure Four Twist Pose:
  • Come onto your back with your arms in a T-position or cactus arms.
  • Bring your right ankle onto your left thigh near your knee.
  • As you exhale bring your legs over to the left.
  • Let your left leg rest on the ground.
  • Press the bottom of your right foot into the ground.

Hold for 5 breaths.

Repeat on the other side.

It’s the perfect time to find what you really appreciate and love in your life!

As you finish these poses, take a couple minutes to think of three things that you are thankful for right now. They don’t have to be huge or grandiose. Need some inspiration? Try “today I am thankful that I have healthy food to eat,” “right now I am grateful that I am safe,” or “today I am thankful that I found these yoga poses.”

Incorporating gratitude into your normal routine will foster a state of relaxation and nurture a sense of well-being with lowered anxiety and a more optimistic outlook on life so come back to this practice often.

Giving thanks every day helps us feel better in the moment and the results compound over time.

And now you know why I always ask you to thank yourself for showing up at the end of every yoga class. You’re worth it!

If you prefer a guided practice, this sequence is an excerpt from one of the classes in our On-Demand Membership. Join today for unlimited access or rent the Wake Up to Gratitude class for a few days. I think you’ll love it as much as I do!

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