Building Appreciation

by Mona Keddy

In last week’s blog, I wrote “Yoga teaches us that all moments, all experiences are opportunities to remember this gift [of embodiment]. We practice yoga to appreciate this body, breath and energy and even the contrast of discomfort is a reminder.”

Since then, I have been contemplating how this happens. What is the mechanism by which yoga develops our appreciation of the gift of this life?

In asana practice, we deliberately cultivate a mindfulness, an attentiveness and attunement to our embodied experience. We hone an appreciation for our body, breath and essence. The intention is that this awareness carries off the mat into our daily lives. Building our awareness happens through our committed yoga practice over time and we can also encourage this process when off the mat.

Our brain is wired in ways that we all hear “no” more easily than “yes.” We remember the painful moments of embarrassment, hurt and grief while the moments of appreciation, joy, peace and kindness slide quickly out from our awareness. The discomfort has a naturally firmer grip inside us. To hold the positive moments, build our appreciation and allow its impact to resonate in us, we must taste these opportunities to the fullest.

I conceptualize the process like this: I imagine the gifts of my day are balls gently tossed my way. I can choose to bat the ball away reducing the impact or I can catch the ball solidly in the palm of my hand. Catching the moments of gratitude, appreciation and love deepen my awareness for them and they land more significantly inside me.

Here are some practices I have found helpful to do make these moments more conscious:

  • When receiving a compliment, say only “thank you” (even to yourself inside)
  • At the end of the day, consciously remember, write down or share with a loved one three positive experiences of the day including what happened and how you felt.
  • Take 8 conscious breaths with gratitude for the ability to breathe easily


  1. Thanks for the encouraging words. So well put! And so easy to put into practice. Now if i can only remember!

  2. Great practical suggestions for how to counteract our survival based “negativity bias”. While our caveman ancestors needed to be hyper alert to possible danger (if 2 cavemen heard a rustling in the forest and one thought “i better get out of here in case that is a tiger” and the other thought “Perhaps I am amplifying my negatively based survival bias- so I’ll sit with this anxiety rather than run away” then which of the two do you think we inherited “flight or fright” genes from!


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