It’s that time of year – time to be thankful, and give back to those we love. Plenty of research has gone into finding the tangible benefits of being grateful. We’ve written before about taking time to notice and reflect upon the little things to be thankful for, which can help you experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have a stronger immune system. Practice gratitude should become a daily habit – whether you write down what you’re grateful for each day in a gratitude journal, or on little slips of paper in a gratitude jar, gratitude will significantly improve your happiness, relationships, and health. We would be hypocritical if we didn’t follow our own advice to practice gratitude daily, so here are a few things we appreciate about San Juan Del Sur:

  1. The jungle

With endless options for exploring and activities, we appreciate living in an area with diverse flora and fauna!

nicaragua jungle zipline monkeys

2. The beach

From surfing, to swimming, to sunsets, to horseback rides, there are even more options for activities on the beautiful Pacific coast. Want to come see for yourself? Sign up for our Bucket List of Bliss retreat with Cher Aslor, which is being held at our Beach Getaway resort partner.

nicaragua beach horses surfing

3. Our friends

Friendship is one of the most important things in life, and all of here at Zen Yoga Nicaragua are thankful for our friends – those who we got to know through retreats or yoga teacher trainings, and those we know from activities outside of yoga.

nicaragua eating boat and pool

4. Of course, yoga!

Yoga keeps us centered, clears our minds, and heals our bodies. We are thankful to be healthy and able to practice yoga every day.

nicaragua yoga studio and beach

Are you keeping a gratitude journal? Let us know what you’re thankful for!

Be grateful for your health & find a few more things to be thankful for at
our
Bucket List of Bliss yoga retreat with Cher Aslor, starting March 19th, 2017.

Generally, when people think of a “bucket list,” they think of all the things that they want to do or experience throughout their entire life, before they proverbially, “kick the bucket.” While it’s a great idea to create your own bucket list, it’s also important to set goals you can experience and accomplish on a smaller scale. Focus on experiencing something every day, every week, every month, and every year. We cannot wait for the right moment to experience life. We have to create the right moments to experience life. As you create your bucket list, be sure to make your family your top priority. You can have all the experiences the world has to offer, but if you don’t get to share them with those closest to you, they will be empty.

 

smiling people behind surfboard
Toronto Photographer

A wise man once said, “a goal not written down is really only a wish.” There is power in writing down your goals. Life is short and it is easy to let the days flow by without exploring what is outside the daily routines of life. Someday it will be our time to kick the bucket. None of us know when this day will come and, as such, we should treat every day like a special occasion. Surprise your family members every once in awhile with a spontaneous experience that will bring you closer together while allowing you to check off one of those items from your list.

yoga poses by the pool

Here are three ways a bucket list will give you greater satisfaction in life (not surprisingly, yoga can satisfy you in the same ways):

Direction

Chart your own course in life. As you write down your goals, your desired accomplishments, and the experiences you want to have in your life, you will have a clear path to follow. There will always be things competing for your time and energy. Having a bucket list will give you the direction you need to stay on course. When distractions come, you will be able to easily filter them out and keep moving forward.

Focus

Having specific goals written down will help you stay focused. When the daily routines of life set in, it can be easy to let the days pass without taking much thought for your goals and desires. Use the items on your bucket list to keep yourself and your family focused. Make an effort to accomplish something small each day, week, and month. You will find that you have attained great successes as the years pass. One strategy you can use is called a monthly focus. Pick two or three goals or experiences from your bucket list and work hard throughout the month to make them happen.

Purpose

What do you want out of life? Why? This is your purpose. You should ask yourself these questions with each goal that you have. This will help you determine if you really want it or not. Taking time to reflect on your purpose, to sit down and write out the answers to these questions, will keep you motivated when times get tough.

Create a bucket list to bring direction, focus, and purpose to your life. Do not waste time waiting to experience life. You must design each moment that you want to experience. As you refine your own bucket list, encourage your family members to create one of their own. As you share your lists with each other, you can help support and encourage one another and experience more of the richness life has to offer.

Original article from Family Share.

Work mindfully to create those special moments in your life and check something off your bucket list.

Click here to take a sneak peek at our Bucket List of Bliss Retreat and practice in paradise.  

The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. And gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions: Sure, you might express gratitude after receiving a promotion at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of pie. Research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal – regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful – can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.

You’d think that just one of these findings is compelling enough to motivate an ungrateful person into action, but unfortunately it’s not always easy to maintain motivation and upkeep a new habit.

Here are a few keys – supported by research – that help not only to start a gratitude practice, but to maintain it for the long haul.

Freshen Up Your Thanks

grateful yoga studio

The best way to reap the benefits of gratitude is to notice new things you’re grateful for every day. Gratitude journaling works because it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on. While you might always be thankful for your great family, just writing “I’m grateful for my family” week after week doesn’t keep your brain on alert for fresh grateful moments. Get specific by writing “Today my husband gave me a shoulder rub when he knew I was really stressed” or “My sister invited me over for dinner so I didn’t have to cook after a long day.” And be sure to stretch yourself beyond the great stuff right in front of you. Opening your eyes to more of the world around you can deeply enhance your gratitude practice. Make a game out of noticing new things each day.

Get Real About Your Gratitude Practice

thankful yoga studio

Being excited about the benefits of gratitude can be a great thing because it gives us the kick we need to start making changes. But if our excitement about sleeping better because of our newfound gratitude keeps us from anticipating how tired we’ll be tomorrow night when we attempt to journal, we’re likely to fumble and lose momentum. When we want to achieve a goal, using the technique of mental contrasting – being optimistic about the benefits of a new habit while also being realistic about how difficult building the habit may be – leads us to exert more effort. Recognize and plan for the obstacles that may get in the way. For instance, if you tend to be exhausted at night, accept that it might not be the best time to focus for a few extra minutes and schedule your gratitude journaling in the morning instead.

Make Thankfulness Fun by Mixing It Up

University of Rochester partners in crime Edward Deci and Richard Ryan study intrinsic motivation, which is the deep desire from within to persist on a task. One of the biggest determinants is autonomy, the ability to do things the way we want. So, don’t limit yourself – if journaling is feeling stale, try out new and creative ways to track your grateful moments. (Happify offers an endless variety of gratitude activities to choose from.) You could try creating a gratitude jar – any time you experience a poignant moment of gratitude, write it on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. On New Year’s Eve, empty the jar and review everything you wrote. When a good thing happens, you can now exclaim, “That’s one for the gratitude jar!” It immediately makes the moment more meaningful and keeps you on the lookout for more.

Be Social About Your Gratitude Practice

grateful champagne face mask

Our relationships with others are the greatest determinant of our happiness. So, it makes sense to think of other people as we build our gratitude. Robert Emmons suggests that focusing our gratitude on people for whom we’re thankful rather than circumstances or material items will enhance the benefits we experience. And while you’re at it, why not include others directly into your expression of gratitude? One Happify activity involves writing a gratitude letter to someone who had an impact on you whom you’ve never properly thanked. You could also share the day’s grateful moments around the dinner table. The conversations that follow may give you even more reasons to give thanks.

Original article from Happify.

Bring someone you’re grateful for along with you to paradise – attend
our
Bucket List of Bliss retreat with Cher Aslor in Nicaragua in March!

Did you know that two of the most common bucket list items are to learn how to surf and go horseback riding? Maybe you did, but did you know you can do both of those things on a retreat with Zen Yoga Nicaragua? Read on to learn more about our Bucket List of Bliss Retreats in beautiful Nicaragua:

Join us in paradise for one of the most magical experiences of your life! Each of our Bucket List of Bliss Yoga Retreats boast locations with magnificent views, all-inclusive accommodations, organic, healthy meals, and adventurous excursions to inspire and ignite your passion for life.

surfers

In March, we will be hosting our Bucket List of Bliss Retreat at our Beach Getaway Resort Partner, led by Cher Aslor – or come visit us in May at our Tree Top Hideaway Resort Partner with Sally Rubin.

Both Bucket List of Bliss Yoga Retreats are within minutes of downtown San Juan Del Sur and will include daily yoga and eco-adventures. Zipline through the jungle with the monkeys and toucans, enjoy a private yacht cruise up the Pacific Coast, and find your Zen with unlimited chill time by the pool each afternoon. Surf and horseback ride too – there is something for everyone to bliss out on during this dynamic retreat.

horsebackridingbg

Choose Bucket List of Bliss Date and Location and sign up today!

March 19-25, 2017 at Beach Getaway (with Cher Aslor)

May 21-27, 2017 at Tree Top Hideaway (with Sally Rubin)

If you want to be happy and healthy and have great relationships, there are many different things you can improve in your daily habits to achieve that. There are obvious ways to take care of ourselves like exercise and diet, but there’s one simple exercise that boosts all of these things simultaneously and that most of us simply don’t know. What’s that? Being thankful. We are grateful for all of the amazing people that have participated in our yoga retreats and training. Gratitude is a gift that we share every day and the following 12 tips are a great way approach your daily life and practice on and off the mat:

Benefits of Gratitude

HAPPINESS

surf yoga - gratitude
Toronto Photographer

1 – Increases your happiness. Counting your blessings leads to heightened well-being, especially positive mood.

2 – Brings you happiness that Lasts. In fact, an attitude of gratitude can not only help you increase positive emotion, but also sustain it long term.

3 – Protects you from stress and negativity. Gratitude is associated with decreased anxiety and depression and increased social support.

4 – Reduces your materialism. One reason gratitude boosts our well-being is that it reduces materialism which is a good thing because materialism is linked to less happiness.

RELATIONSHIPS

friends yoga - gratitude

5 – Makes you more socially intelligent.

6 – Leads to better relationships. Gratitude strengthens your relationships and helps you create and maintain good relationships and feel more connected.

HEALTH

green smoothie yoga - gratitude

7 – It even improves sleep quality and duration – in part because you have more grateful/happy thoughts before you go to sleep. Count blessings, not sheep!

8 – Strengthens your willpower to make better decisions. Gratitude makes you stronger and helps you achieve your goals and make smarter long term decisions.

9 – Benefits you at all ages from adolescence to adulthood.

IMPACT

legs up yoga - gratitude

10 – Makes you a better person. It makes us better, more altruistic, moral, and ethical people. We become more helpful and kind to others.

11 – Makes others better people too: those we thank are more likely to become more ethical people too.

12 – Makes the world a better place. When you express your gratitude to someone, that person will go on to be kinder to others.

Don’t feel grateful? Don’t worry. Gratitude is accessible to anyone. Whether we’re sick or well, old or young, employed or unemployed – if our heart is beating, air is flowing in our lungs, and we have had a meal today, we have something for which we can be grateful. “Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude” (A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh).

Practicing Gratitude

It’s good practice to take the time to be grateful every single day, but what better holiday than Thanksgiving to jump-start your efforts to be more grateful? Here are some simple ways to strengthen your thanking muscle throughout the rest of November and beyond:

1 – A powerful way scientists have found can increase your well-being is by simply making daily gratitude lists. Write down five things you feel grateful for every day. This simple act can significantly increase your happiness.

2 – Another way you can boost your gratitude is by spending a few minutes out of your day devoted to gratitude.

3 – Gratitude meditation: Another way you can boost your gratitude is by spending a few minutes out of your day devoted to gratitude. Here’s a gratitude meditation put together by Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D, the original author of this article, that you can download and try for yourself today.

Original article is from Psychology Today.

Cross a Visit to Nicaragua off Your Bucket List – join us for the Bucket List of Bliss Retreat with Cher Aslor on March 19th.

And don’t forget to share this blog with someone you are grateful to have in your life!