With Thanksgiving right around the corner, gratitude is a great theme to weave into your teen yoga classes.  Practicing gratitude has incredible physical, mental and emotional health benefits, ranging from improved sleep, to better relationships, to an overall increase in happiness and wellbeing.  Integrating a gratitude practice in your teen yoga class can also be a powerful way to build community, a sense of connection, and a network of support.

Here are three great gratitude practices you can incorporate into your teen yoga classes around the Thanksgiving holiday (or any time of year!):

1.      Gratitude Journal (with prompts):

Have students create their own gratitude journals that they can write in weekly or even daily.  Sometimes it can be a little hard for teens to get the ball rolling, so you can start with some prompts to help teens recognize the things they are grateful for:

  • I am grateful for myself because
  • I am grateful for my friend because
  • I am grateful for this teacher because
  • I am grateful for my family because
  • Something good that happened to me today is
  • Something else I am grateful for is

After students have had a chance to write in their journals, you can partner the teens to share with each other, or come together as a group and invite any students to share their entries.

2.      Gratitude Circle: 

As a closing to your class, sit in a circle with your students.  Starting with yourself, go around the circle and have each student share one thing they are grateful for or appreciate about the person sitting next to them.  Kicking off the circle with a genuine, heartfelt sharing of what you appreciate about the student sitting next to you will help catalyze authentic sharing in the group. This is a great way to build positive relationships among your students and build community in your class.

3.      Gratitude Letter:

Have students hand write a letter to someone in their life for whom they are grateful.  It could be a friend, family member, teacher or mentor or anyone else who they deeply appreciate.  In the letter encourage students to share what they appreciate about the person, and how the person has positively impacted their life.  Students can mail or hand deliver the letter.  You might bring envelopes and stamps to support the students in sending the letters.  A few weeks later, you can have a follow up where students can share any outcomes or responses from their letters, and how it may have deepened their relationships.

I am grateful to all of you for your commitment to empowering the next generation through yoga, mindfulness, and community building.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Erin Lila Singh