Cultivate gratitude with this 15 minute trauma-informed restorative yoga practice that will help you soothe your anxiety and invite contentment.
A lot of times what blocks us or keeps us from experiencing gratitude is an outer shell of protection. If you've been carrying around a lot of unnecessary tension, as many of us have, stretching can be a great release.
There usually is a reason for that tension. Our bodies have been trained to keep us safe. But now we might not need all of that tension anymore.
If you're holding unnecessary tension, you may have closed yourself off to all the nourishment and nurturing that is available to you. You are needed. The most nourished, nurtured, resourced version of you is needed for whatever is coming in the next moment.
Thank that tension for its service. It was helping you stay safe. Then let it go.
Having contentment is a tall order when things feel uncomfortable (or even catastrophic). These moments of contentment can strengthen us for whatever is ahead. If we can't receive, we're closing ourselves off to all the nourishment and nurturing that is available to us. Who are we to say no to that?
Let yourself rest and receive gratefully.
Your deep hip flexors, or psoas muscles, are responsive to your emotions. They help you curl into a little ball if your life is threatened. That protects your organs. When you're under a lot of stress or you're in shutdown mode, freeze mode (the dorsal vagal response of your nervous system), you might feel like curling into a ball. That is just one of the purposes of the psoas muscle.
Another purpose of the psoas muscle is to help you walk courageously through life.
What could you ask for courageously that would feel just wonderful to receive?
Complete your practice with a gratitude meditation.
Hi, welcome to gentle yoga for gratitude and cultivating contentment.
[00:00:05] I have a block. If you don't have a block, it's fine. I am sitting on a cushion, just a thin cushion, and I have a blanket that I've rolled up the long way. We're going to bring our feet together, knees apart, and start like that. Take the rolled up blanket, lift your knees, and then tuck the blanket under your shins, so your knees are still up, and then take that blanket and tuck it under your thighs, so that the blanket is the thing that's supporting your legs, not your muscles, so your legs can completely soften and release here. And then rest your hands down onto your shins for a moment. Arch your heart through forward and up as you breathe in, and breathe out and curl and round, then arch, breathe and lift and exhale back.
[00:01:08] We'll do that a few times.
So a lot of times what blocks us or keeps us from experiencing gratitude is kind of a outer shell of protection. You can start to tilt forward here. Maybe you can reach your feet and give them a little rub.
If we've been carrying around a lot of unnecessary tension, as many of us have, stretching can be great for releasing tension.
There may be a reason. There usually is a reason for that tension and our bodies have been trained to keep us safe, but now we might not need all of that tension anymore.
If you have a block, you can start to tilt forward more and rest your elbows on it. I'm just comfortably coming forward. It's not a big, huge stretch or anything, just a comfortable ease and release forward.
[00:02:05] So this tension served a purpose, trying to keep us safe. Maybe there was an injury or maybe there was a emotional unsafe place in the past. And if that lack of safety is no longer true, or that injury is no longer there, then you don't need the tension anymore. But our bodies, they hold on to it because the primary objective that we have evolved for is to stay safe. Now we have potential for more. And often, before we can get to that more, we need to release the unnecessary tension. And sometimes just talking about it is enough. Just having the intention of letting go and asking, is this necessary tension or is this unnecessary tension?
[00:03:03] Check in. Is there some contentment that could start to arise as you release. It may be that as you are in this position for a while, you can then go forward more. We're not forcing anything. See how it feels. See if gravity can be your friend here.
Where is the tension most prevalent? Where are you noticing it the most? Where is the least amount of ease? Maybe you want to roll your shoulders, open and close your jaw, or turn your head. Maybe you'd like to let go of this blanket and let your legs extend and unfurl.
[00:04:03] Of course, make it your own. Do what's right for you. If you do feel comfortable, you can start to lie down on one side and come into a fetal position lying on your side. I'm using the pillow under my head and you could do that or something else. You could use your arm. Just want to have your head lined up with the rest of your spine.
Take your top hand up to your top ribs and your bottom ribs are already touching the ground. We're going to breathe into our side ribs, expanding and then releasing.
When you feel ready, you can start to open that top shoulder. A little bit back behind you. So your chest turns towards the ceiling to come into a gentle twist, very gentle, letting your top knee come up. Now if you've got that block or a cushion or the rolled up blanket, you could put one of those under your shoulder, if you'd like, or between your knees to provide a little more support.
[00:05:25] So where's the unnecessary tension now? Where do you notice it? Could you reach, yawn in this position? What would feel good? I'll invite you to make your way to your other side. You don't have to come up, you can just roll to your other side.
I assume you want to see my face. We're gonna start in the same way so top hand on your top ribs, feeling your rib cage expand into the floor and into your hand. Expanding with breath. And then feeling that sense of release, seeing if you can invite a little more ease and contentment with each exhale.
[00:06:21] And whenever you feel ready, you can start to let that top shoulder, top ribs, turn back. So that you're rotating your spine in a comfortable way into a reclined twist. And don't force your top knee down, or your top shoulder down. Allow a little seesaw action to find what feels most nourishing, helping you release any unnecessary tension that you identify.
Start to thank that tension for its service. It was helping us to stay safe. We no longer need it. So we can invite it to, let go, take a break. But first, you know, acknowledge that it had its place. And we're grateful even for the tension.
[00:07:17] All right, and find your way in your own time, onto your back, knees bent. Take out anything that's under your head, if you can, and lift up your hips and put something under your butt. I'm using my thin block on the lowest height, and we're going to make sure that that block is not just under your tailbone or not in your lower back at all. You're not falling off the block with your butt in either direction. Then you can separate your feet wide, your knees are bent, then you might start to drop one knee in a little bit more and then the other. We're not looking for a big movement or a big flopping, just letting those inner thighs drop in and kind of sift.
[00:08:07] You might feel this in your deep hip flexor muscles. This is one of the places that is most responsive to our emotions because our psoas muscles are the ones that need to respond when we're under threat to keep us safe. So they help us curl into a little ball if our life is being threatened. So that protects our organs and often you might feel when you're under a lot of stress or you're in a shutdown mode, the freeze mode, the dorsal vagal response of your nervous system. So when you're in that shutdown mode, it is to protect your inner organs. All your systems kind of slow, you might feel a numbing sensation. That is one of the purposes of the psoas muscle, also to help us walk courageously through life.
So it's also willing to unfold, unfurl, and open.
[00:09:16] You can walk your feet a little closer together and maybe one knee comes in as the other leg extends out along the mat. So you've got your two knees going away from each other. And you can lift your top leg if you want. We're not trying to stretch the back of the leg necessarily, but the bottom leg, that hip is extending only as far as feels good. All right. And then you decide when to change sides. Both knees bend and then bring your other knee in. You can hold behind that thigh if you'd like and extend your bottom leg out. So you're making this your own.
Thanking our psoas muscles, our deep hip flexor muscles for their service and all of the tension throughout our body, thanking it and then inviting it to let go because it's no longer necessary. So what comes into that void? What if we could allow that void to be there, that openness, that spaciousness?
[00:10:21] Separate your feet, drop both knees in towards each other. You can keep whatever's under your butt there. You might notice that it is helping your heart rate to slow. Your blood flow is changing by elevating your hips. If you'd like that and it helps you, you can stay there.
It might help to facilitate the sense of contentment and release and allowing that space that you've created by sloughing off the tension. So what could you intentionally receive? What could you ask for courageously that would feel just wonderful to receive?
[00:11:06] I'm going to take out the block from under my butt. I'm going to straighten out my legs, but you can certainly keep your knees bent if that feels better for you. And I'm going to take my arms out. So I'm making a big star shape on the ground, softening my lower ribs into the floor.
So all the parts of my body that are touching the ground, I'm going to see how much I can drop into gravity, have that sense of being received by the center of the earth and allow the spaciousness, allow the emptiness and the openness.
[00:12:03] And of course there will be tensions, there will be stressors that want to come in.
Having contentment for whatever is, is a tall order when things feel uncomfortable or even truly upsetting and catastrophic. These moments of contentment can nourish and nurture us and strengthen us for whatever is ahead. If we can't receive, we're closing ourselves off to all the nourishment and nurturing that is available to us. Who are we to say no to that? We are needed. The most nourished, nurtured, resourced us is needed for whatever is coming in the next moment. Let yourself rest and receive gratefully.
[00:13:10] You decide when you start moving, lengthening, finding your way to a comfortable seat.
End the same way we began, tucking the blanket over your shins and then under your thighs. So there's lots of sense of support and maybe a bowing or curling in on yourself. Having gratitude for yourself. Thanking yourself for giving yourself this time to practice.
imagine the cup as if you're scooping up water, holding that right in front of your heart center. Let your eyes gaze 1 10th open into this cup and just filling and overflowing. Let your eyelids almost drop to close, but not quite.
[00:14:05] There's still that little sliver of openness as you gaze into the cup, filling to overflowing.
Have that sense of gratefully receiving all the blessings, knowing that they're boundless, they're bountiful, there's an endless supply you're not taking from someone else.
You can be grateful without being greedy. You can receive and generously make it an offering at the same time. Imagine that this cup is full to overflowing, you can both receive and you can start to extend forward with this cup to make it an offering.
Whatever you want to offer, wherever, to whoever you want to offer this cup of contentment, of joy, please do. Then it's still full, so bring it in, let your hands cross at your heart center and imagine yourself absorbing all of that contentment, pleasure, joy, receptivity, all the blessings.
[00:15:33] Thank anyone that has been generous with you. You can say, thank you. Thank you. Thank you over and over again.
Thank your body and even your attention for showing up for you and keeping you safe. And finally, thank yourself for giving yourself this time to practice contentment and gratitude, release unnecessary tension, and resource yourself for whatever is to come in the next moment.
Online Monday, November 20 11-11:45 am Eastern
with Kate Lynch
- Do you ever feel blocked from receiving kindness?
- Do you want to connect with yourself?
Learn mindfulness-based gratitude practices. Receive guided relaxation to release tension. Journal to reflect with curiosity. Replenish, so you can return to your life with a new perspective.
“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. But our shared brokenness connects us.”
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”
Kate Lynch (she/her) began teaching yoga and cultivating community in 2002, hoping to relieve some of the suffering in the world. Since then she has shared the tools that help her find joy, healing and calm in the face of self-doubt, pain and anxiety.
If you tend to be hard on yourself, and want to change that, join me to learn mindfulness-based gratitude and self-compassion practices.
- Learn mindfulness-based gratitude practices.
- Receive guided relaxation to release tension.
- Journal to reflect with curiosity.
- Replenish, so you can return to your life with a new perspective.
- Yup, there will be a replay for a limited time.
Stop Walking On Eggshells!
Gentle yoga to release your stress and shift your mindset about struggle.
If you get your buttons pushed often by other people's issues, you may be hypervigilant. You might feel it in your body as clenching, tension, or chronic pain.
You'll become more grounded in awareness of your body.