Life 108 - Yoga, the brain + gratitude

July 28, 2018

How many times do we remember that living is a privilege not an expectation. 


Every morning we are blessed to open our eyes to another new day.  We are also given an opportunity to remember who we really are and what we bring to the world though our strengths, weakness, uniqueness.  The other opportunity being the possibility to start afresh but how many of us are grateful for that opportunity and how many of us really embrace it ? 


Gratitude is just one simple practice that can become a good daily habit to flex, cultivate and boost psychological flexibility. It has the power to alter our mindset and gives our steadiness and humility that can diminish self-centredness. 




Positive and negative emotions look different in the brain. Research found that someone who experiences positive emotions, such as joy or gratitude has a much higher activity in the left prefrontal cortex, whereas negative emotions such as anxiety or stress are linked to activity in the right prefrontal cortex. Research on using positive psychological perspectives to drive brain plasticity in a positive direction is increasingly encouraging and empowering for all of us. Positive psychology can strengthen this trend toward increases in wellbeing by using this evolving research for motivation to increase healthy lifestyle choices, for reinforcement of successive approximation toward these goals and for the many gains associated with greater happiness. 


I was first introduced to the powerful practices of gratitude via two of my teachers Elena Brower and Gabby Bernstein who gave me some insightful exercises. Allowing me even faced with the most distressing challenges the possibility to find emotional balance. To this day my daily practice consists of journalling whilst having my morning coffee, all the things l'm grateful even if the day before hadn't gone quite according plan. Picking something positive out of a not so great experience still has the power to alter perception and offer a fresh perspective. 


Any practice (sadhana) you try to commit to isn’t always going to come naturally. Like practising 108 Sun Salutations! However if you stick with it over time your commitment to your whatever you’re practicing (abhyāsa - to be rooted in the practice of something) will start to show dividends.


But be careful not get attached to any one particular outcome. In other words set an Intention but be open to any outcome (vairāgyābhyāṁ - let go of) this is the practice of detached in Yoga Philosophy


Yoga Philosophies and practices remind us of the importance of becoming more gracious, mindful, compassionate and grateful. Poses and meditations help us stay open, active, receptive enough to be able to navigate positivity and negativity equally and in the process open ourselves up to less suffering and more Joy. Neuroscience and Human Psychology offer us information in what it really means to be HUMAN.



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