Read Time: 2 minutes
Author: Charlotte Bell, E-RYT 500
Charlotte Bell has been teaching the importance of yoga since 1986. She is currently an instructor for the Linda B. and Robert B. Wiggins Wellness & Integrative Health Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Over two-and-a-half years, I had four surgeries. My hips were replaced because of dysplasia, making me bilaterally bionic. During that time, I was also diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Fortunately, it was detected early and didn’t require a lot of radical treatment, just a pair of surgeries.
This period of my life was a wake-up call. Before the surgeries, I took this body for granted. I didn’t visit a doctor for 25 years. Nothing happened that I couldn’t take care of through natural means. But no matter how many years we’ve enjoyed good health, our bodies change as we age. They start to wear out and require more TLC.
When we experience illness, we sometimes develop an antagonistic relationship with our bodies. And yet, these are the times when they most need our care and appreciation. As a yoga teacher at the Linda B. and Robert B. Wiggins Wellness and Integrative Health Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute, I see my classes as a way to remind people with cancer, caregivers, and staff that living in our bodies can still be a pleasurable experience. Practicing yoga can remind us of the simple pleasure of breathing and relaxing deeply.
Studies have found that cultivating gratitude results in better health. A 2015 article in Newsweek cited five proven benefits grateful people enjoy:
- More optimism and better health
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased self-esteem
- Increased helpfulness and empathy
- Increased resilience
The late Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh taught that appreciation of our bodies in any state can be a source of happiness. “When we have a toothache, we know that not having a toothache is a wonderful thing. But when we do not have a toothache, we are still not happy. A non-toothache is very pleasant,” Hanh said.
Be Grateful for Your Body
You are only given one body so you have to take care of it. Here are five ways you can show your body more gratitude.
- Your heart is constantly working to keep you alive. Give it some gratitude.
- Appreciate your senses for letting you enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations of our world.
- Take time to acknowledge all the systems and parts that are working right.
- If you practice yoga, be grateful that you are able to practice.
- Give your body a nice, long Savasana, the final relaxation pose at the end of your yoga practice. This gives your body time to recover and replenish.
Treating your body with kindness and appreciation will not make you immune to all the effects of aging. But it will allow you to live the balance of your life with greater ease and happiness.