The garuda asana or eagle posture is an excellent posture for loosening stiff muscles. This posture also affords the best long stretch of the spinal column while standing. It has a distinct beneficial effect upon lower back disorders and has been found useful in repairing damages from slipped and herniated discs. Its benefits include:

- Strengthens and stretches the ankles and calves
- Stretches the thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back
- Improves concentration
- Improves sense of balance

To begin the garuda asana, stand on one leg with the other leg crossed from the front at the thighs. The foot is hooked behind the calf or ankle. While balancing on one leg, cross hands at the wrists.

If you have "over-stretched" in any other posture, then stand and practise the garuda asana for 2 minutes on each side. A fixation point for about 2 metres in front of you should be held during the full round of the eagle posture as a concentration exercise.

From a health standpoint, this posture is a great boon to women who are prone to glandular disturbances in the groin, breasts and throat as well as under the armpits. For more information on the eagle posture or anything yoga related, contact Florence at 012-3915528.

When you've got the blues, what do you do? Most women would indulge in retail therapy and men would most likely go for liquor therapy. Sure few pairs of shoes and couple of Tequila shots may make you feel good for the next few hours but what happens when the effect wears off?

On a much more promising note, research suggests that expressing gratitude does more than just make you feel good. It may actually be the key to a healthier, happier you!

When you're in the mood for a little self-improvement, just one brisk walk through through the self-help section is enough to give you a boost (aside from the shopping and booze). Work less, appreciate the smaller things in life, find someone to love, learn how to be alone; common things that people preach. But rarely do you hear that the way to make life more enjoyable, more fulfilling and peaceful, is to cultivate gratitude. 

Gratitude motivates and inspires us to return a favor, enabling the cycle of giving and receiving. Grateful people naturally feel more inclined to share, further propelling the "what goes around, comes around" phenomenon.

10 Ways to Boost Your Gratitude Practice

1. Use your senses
Pick one of your five senses to focus on each day. Discover how many gifts come to you via that single point of entry. Cook a new meal or do a painting of what's outside your balcony.

2. See their secret goodness
Pick three people you like and see regularly. For one week, observe their actions and gestures, assuming their goodness and witnessing their best intentions. See how this new way of seeing, changes your interactions with them. Once you've practiced this with those you know and appreciate, try it on strangers and difficult people too. The results may surprise you.

3. Enjoy a mindful meal
You're hungry to the point you can eat a whole cow, but calm down and take a deep breath. Before you eat, think about all the people whose efforts help get food to your table - the farmers, truck drivers, the cooks, etc). When you widen your perspective, you tend to better appreciate how closely you're connected with so many other people.

4. Flip your complaints
Every time you're about to complain about something, STOP. Think about the one thing that you're learning from this inconvenience. Hard to do at first, but with practice you'll realize how easy this comes to you later on.

5. Start a gratitude wall
Whenever you're moved by the spirit of gratitude, jot down the source of your inspiration on a Post-it and stick it on the wall/board. You'll gradually build a mosaic of gratitude, with plenty to remind you of what makes you life special. Remember - nothing is too small or too big for gratitude.

6. Pay a thank-you visit
Don't just send a thank-you note or phone call (although that's a good habit to cultivate). Take it a step further by delivering it in person. It's a natural feel-good factor, for sure.

7. Set an alarm
Every time it goes off (depending on your level of grogginess), stop what you're doing and, for 30 seconds, focus on  something or someone for whom you feel grateful.

8. Count blessings, not sheep
It's true. Research shows that people who practice gratitude sleep better than those who don't. Rather than spending your nights running through all of the tasks you did or didn't do, think of all you received - and count warm intentions of the people behind these gifts.

9. Keep grateful company
Be aware of who you spend your time with. Some people bring more harm than good, regardless how long you've been friends for. Surround yourself with grateful people, and you'll start seeing the bright side of life yourself.

10. Do a bliss list
For five minutes straight, make a list of all the things you've received from other people in the past month. Can't remember? Try in the last 2 weeks then. Carry this list in your pocket or wallet and read it when you're in line at the bank/post office or waiting for a friend.

Gratitude is the path to inner peace and happiness so don't put it off any longer. Start today!

The million-dollar question: What is Yoga? is described in further detail in the video below. Alternatively, you could also read about the long-term benefits this ancient discipline has to offer. Enjoy!


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