Yoga Mail

By Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen

As life is too short to be bogged down with negativities and things that do not serve a purpose, I thrive on positive vibes. Feeling good and being positive does not come easy. While it is natural to be suspicious, jealous, angry and resentful, it is also within our capacity to be fully conscious of our feelings, thwart the negative and implement the positive. Living life happily and positively is my birthright; and I will not in any way jeopardise that.

I have always been asked how I keep happy all the time. Well, there is no shortcut to happiness but we can strive and make small changes in our daily lives to ensure we live a meaningful life. Happiness does not mean having that new shiny branded school bag or incredibly popular shoes or travelling to far away exotic destinations; it is more than that. It is really an inside job; no matter how much one has. If one is unhappy at the core, he/she will still not find any satisfaction in life.

Janet Jackson used to say in one of her songs, ‘the best things in life are free’ and she cannot be more right.

In pursuit of positive living, let us look at ways to live life euphorically, celebrating each and every moment of our time on planet Earth. Most of the time, it does not even take a penny to realise that dream.

Gratitude is the key to everything. There is an expression; happiness does not make one grateful, but gratitude makes one happy. This should be the key to living. Gratitude opens doors, endows one with endless energy and hope and keeps one grounded. In short, being grateful gives a purpose to living. One way to keep gratitude in check is to start a journal. Every night before turning in, write down ten things that made you happy that day. It can be as small as doing the laundry or picking and throwing out a branch that might cause a mishap to cyclists. Being grateful for big and little things in life helps flow positivity into our daily lives. Gratitude begets gratitude, so let’s start being grateful now.

We often overlook the single one most amazing gift of life; the BREATH. Breathing is a fundamental factor for the living; breathing can also be a wonderful tool for a positive happy living. In yoga science, pranayama means the regulation of breath through certain techniques and exercises. Positive breathing is a favourite amongst yogis. Most pranayama techniques consist of three parts and Positive Breathing is no different. There is inhalation (puraka), retention (kumbhaka) and exhalation (rechaka).

Firstly, place your left hand on your lap. On the right hand, fold index and middle fingers in towards the palm and leave the thumb, ring finger, and pinky finger extended. Only the right nostril is used in positive breathing. Now, bring your right hand to the left nostril; press your pinky and ring fingers against it, leaving only the thumb free. With your left nostril blocked, inhale through the right nostril for 8 counts. After the count, use your thumb to block the right nostril while the left one is still blocked and hold your breath for 6 counts. Then release your thumb (the left nostril is still blocked with the ring and pinky fingers), exhale through the right nostril for 8 more counts. This is one round of Positive Breathing.

In yoga, the right nostril is associated with the masculine, active energy of the body.

We stimulate these energies by breathing only through the right nostril which increases positive feelings, improves digestion and generates heat. I once read this – 20 minutes of Positive Breathing, and you are ready to face a firing squad. Says a lot, doesn’t it?

Sadly, material possession is seen as a necessity today; they are thought to be the bridge to happiness. This is not at all true. Staying detached from worldly possessions require some work; however, the shift felt within is remarkable. Make efforts to buy less or only when necessary. When we are not in competition with anyone, we see life in a much better light. A positive living will emerge, leaving behind those remnants of the past where worldly possessions once took control.

Practice the art of giving no matter how small. You can give your time, help the underprivileged with tuition that they cannot afford. You can also give away used clothes to the shelter or give a lift to someone waiting for public transport. You may also want to donate blood – the list is endless and most times it does not even involve money. Those who give from the heart have immense happiness. They believe they have enough to share. Givers usually walk around with a sparkle in their eyes because they know the art of giving certainly defeats that of receiving at any given time.

We are what we eat; I am sure we all have heard of that before. What we eat have a direct effect on the way we think and the way we move about our day. A healthy diet is essential to our wellbeing. Cut down on sodas, candies and processed food. Consume fresh foods, greens and don’t forget to drink more water. Water ensure distribution of oxygen throughout the body for optimum breathing which in turn, gives an energy boost. When you eat and drink healthily – your mind and body will thank you for that.

Transform your thoughts with meditation. Contrary to belief, meditation does not need to be long. A brief ten minutes daily will do heaps of good. Find a quiet spot, you may sit on the floor or chair, but sit up straight. Set your alarm next to you for ten minutes. Then close your eyes and take control of your breathing. Breathe in deep and breathe out the air as much as you comfortably can while keeping your mind clear and free from thoughts. Just concentrate on the breaths. Repeat until the alarm goes off. Meditation clears the clutter in the mind, promotes mental wellbeing, makes one sharper and of course, promotes a positive mindset.

Last but not least, the art of yoga stimulates positive thoughts. Yoga is a spiritual and ascetic discipline which uses breath control, simple meditation and implementation of specific physical postures. The first principle of yoga is the asanas. In layman’s term, asanas are postures. These postures stimulate your mind, and strengthen and stretch the muscles in the body. These actions unblocks the chakras in our bodies and help diminish negative thoughts while igniting positive ones. My favourite postures are the cow pose (bitilasana), warrior II pose (Virabhadasana) and of course, Utkata Konasana (goddess pose)!