I love that our country sets aside a national holiday to focus on gratitude and giving back. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. The values of around which this day centers are closely related to the values I’ve learned through my years of practicing yoga. Each November, I find myself overwhelmed by feelings of appreciation for my friends, my family and my many blessings. This year, I thought it would be fun to write a reflection on what the Pilgrims who observed the first Thanksgiving and yoga have taught me.
1. Stand strong in your faith: In order to obtain religious freedom, the Pilgrims left their familiar lives behind and traveled to an unknown land. For me, yoga provides a way to remain grounded in faith and stay true to myself. As a mom of three children, I find that life can easily spiral out of control in terms of chaos. I am thankful for the way that yoga allows me to find peace and inner light and can allow “just for me time!”
2. Journey to freedom: The trip across the Atlantic Ocean was a long and arduous one for the Pilgrims. On faith, they set out despite their uncertainties in what lay ahead. As a former employee of Orbitz, I have always enjoyed travel, but journeys away from home bring unfamiliar experiences. No matter where I roam, I can always find yoga. Once on a former trip to Orlando, I stayed in a hotel that offered yoga on their rooftop at sunrise. It was a fabulous “Om away from home” practice. As I maintain my practice, yoga remains a guiding constant in my life.
3. Overcome fear: For the pilgrims, fears loomed dreadfully during their first winter in the New World. In fact, almost 50 of the 102 passengers that disembarked from the Mayflower died. Those who survived overcame their fears to found a colony. Yoga is also about overcoming fear. Frequently, I have faced fear in breaking a new pose. I worry that I might fall or get hurt. As I listen to my body, however, I find success.
4. Learn in community: The Natives of the New World helped the Pilgrims learn how to plant crops, hunt and build shelters. One of my favorite things about yoga is the time I spend in group sessions. As we all work toward a similar goal, we learn together. I seem to learn new things about myself continually through this practice.
5. Give thanks: After the harvest of 1621, the Pilgrims and their new friends who helped them survive in the New World shared a feast together. Today, we know this as the first Thanksgiving. For me, yoga extends beyond practice on a mat. It informs my life of gratitude throughout every day.
As we grow in age and wisdom, what do you feel you are most grateful for in your life and how are you going to celebrate this year by giving thanks!