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Practicing Gratitude with YWCA Minneapolis

By YWCA Minneapolis
November 21, 2022
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YWCA Minneapolis group fitness classes strengthen our community with safe spaces for wellness, encouragement and friendship. We rely on one another throughout the year, and our instructor team appreciates each opportunity to connect. Below, a handful of our wonderful instructors offer a few ideas about incorporating gratitude into your workouts and highlight the benefits of sharing it with one another!

Stephanie Wagner

As human beings, we have a built-in negativity bias. It’s nothing to feel bad about. It’s hard-wired in our bodies. However, it shows up in our daily lives as a tendency to focus on what’s wrong rather than appreciating what’s right. When it comes to our relationship with our own bodies, this negativity can show up as being self-critical about our “limitations” or feelings of frustration that our bodies don’t function or look the way that we want them to. This is where the powerful practice of gratitude and appreciation comes into play. You can think of appreciation as the skill of tuning into the positive — whether it’s our circumstances, the people in our lives that support us or our relationships with our bodies. The next time you work out, try these tips to practice gratitude and appreciation.

  • At the beginning of your workout, take a moment to appreciate all of the things that are coming together to make your workout available — the warm space for you to work out in, the capacity of your body, a dedicated instructor, access to equipment (if you use it) and other things that support you in being able to work out at that moment.
  • In the middle of your workout, when it might start feeling hard, take a moment to appreciate everything your body is doing for you. Your heart is pumping, your lungs are breathing and your body does incredible things to help you without you even noticing it. Take a moment to appreciate how hard your body is working to support you in your workout.
  • At the end of your workout, take a moment to appreciate that you just did something good for yourself and aligned with your values to support your health and well-being.

Stephanie Wagner (she/her), NBC-HWC, is a board-certified health coach with a Master of Arts in Integrative Health and Well-Being Coaching from the University of Minnesota. Stephanie has been a group fitness instructor with YWCA Minneapolis since 2018 and teaches classes like HIIT Plus, Chisel and Cardio Kick. In addition to her work with YWCA, Stephanie is a meditation teacher for a nonprofit called Healthy Minds Innovations. She is on the teaching faculty of the graduate program in health coaching at the University of Minnesota.


Deanna Reiter

The Season of Gratitude brings an important focus to our YWCA Live! Meditation classes, helping us appreciate the good in our lives and even feel happier. I’m fascinated by the studies on the benefits of a gratitude practice.

Dr. David Lykken, a behavioral geneticist at the University of Minnesota, discovered one action that can substantially affect our set point level of happiness: expressing gratitude. The other action Lykken found to improve our happiness level is to practice acts of kindness. When we incorporate a gratitude practice with acknowledgments of others, we enhance not only our day but also the day of the person we acknowledged. I’m eager to experience the ripple effect of our Season of Gratitude for you and our entire community.

Deanna Reiter (she/her) has been a group fitness instructor with YWCA since 2007. She teaches weekly YWCA Live! Meditation classes on Tuesdays from 7:15 – 7:45 pm and Fridays from 8:30 – 9:00 am. Deanna is also a master trainer for the National Exercise Trainers Association. She is a certified yoga teacher and breathwork coach.

 Join Deanna for two featured YWCA Live! virtual classes: The Science of Gratitude and Gratitude Reflections!


Jana Huffman

Appreciating our bodies, just as they are on any given day, is — for many of us (me included!) — a gratitude practice (with an emphasis on practice). It takes attention and often a mindset shift. I am learning to show up on my mat or in workout gear and listen to the needs of my body, tend to what I find needs a bit of support or a bit of challenge, and rest when that is called for (see you at Restorative Yoga!). Building strength and flexibility out of care and gratitude for my body is different than the “No pain, no gain” culture I grew up in, where my body was an enemy of sorts. I’m grateful to take and lead others in the mind-body spaces within YWCA and cultivate something new!

Jana Huffman (she/her) has been teaching yoga since 2017. She is a YWCA Minneapolis group fitness lead and teaches several yoga formats at all three locations and virtually. In addition, she is a yoga personal trainer.


Angela Coffee

Restorative Yoga is a powerful space for planting seeds of gratitude. As we create loving, mindful, and cozy postures for ourselves; and engage with our bodies, breath, and energy with curiosity and care, we invite our nervous systems to settle into a healing space of deep rest. Within the profound simplicity of this practice, we’re able to slow down and more vibrantly connect with gratitude in the community.

Angela Coffee (she/her) is an educator; a student of yoga, meditation, and the body; and one who takes great delight in practices that bring us more fully to life. Oriented towards trauma-informed and liberatory practices of consent, Angela’s classes are full of invitations and possibilities, centered in the deep wisdom and experience of our bodies, and interested in weaving pockets of rest, deep care, resilience and delight in our community. All bodies, identities and ability levels are very welcome!

Find Restorative Yoga on Mondays at YWCA Minneapolis

  • 8:30 – 9:45 am with Dana B., YWCA Downtown
  • 10:30 – 11:45 am with Angela C., YWCA Midtown
  • 7:00 – 8:15 pm with Mary E., YWCA Uptown

Registration is encouraged due to class size limitations: Class Schedules – YWCA (

A Season of Gratitude

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