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vital: Get your life into shape; YOGA GURU REVEALS HOW EXERCISE AND POSITIVE THINKING CAN HELP YOU BE FITTER, HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER.

Byline: By Samantha Booth

SCOTTISH positive psychology and yoga teacher Valerie Cowie helps people get more out of life.

PR guru Tess Hartman describes her as her "yoga shrink". Other clients say she is their "mind and body flexor extraordinaire" because she is so skilled at helping them to make the most of the their time and energy.

So to help you alget as much as you can out of 2009, here are her top tips for grabbing life with both hands.

YOGA

It is time for making resolutions, such as losing weight and feeling great. But the question is, how long wilthis year's guilt last?

As far as Valerie is concerned, yoga is for life, not just for Christmas or New Year resolutions.

Her understanding of yoga, underpinned by positive psychology, is that it is not enough to say you have done yoga if you want to live a 100 per cent life, not at 50 per cent life.

Why would you choose to live a half empty life?

PELVIS

The pelvis is the hinge of your body and, if correctly aligned, the chances are your spine is properly aligned, which can in turn lead to the relief of back pain and stiffness.

Sit on the edge of your seat with both feet flat on the floor untiyou feethe bony parts of your pelvis make contact with the seat, and your hip bones are level.

From that position, your spine wilbe prone to find its naturacurve and be in correct alignment.

Add to that what I calthe finafrontier. If you lengthen the gap from the hip bones to the base of your ribcage by lifting up, your positive posture wilallow more effective breathing and organ function, increase digestion and engage your girdles of strength - your core strength muscles.

NO TV Research shows that a lot of us are prone to over-exaggerating how much time we spend working and underestimate how much free time we have. On average, 14 hours a week is spent watching television.

It has been suggested that we have a40 per cent share in controlling our happiness and putting meaning into our lives. The other 60 per cent is written in your genetic make-up and your life circumstances.

TAKE A BREATHER

We alhave five-litre capacity lungs that stretch from the base of our ribcage to our collar bones. Stress and lack of muscle tone can lead to germs lurking in the base of our lungs and ineffective breathing.

The nose knows. It could be seen as our first line of defence against disease in the body. The hairs in our nose, called vibrissae, filter the air we breathe. The anatomicastructure of the inner nose heats up the air as we take it into our lungs so it does not shock the body.

A fulinhalation through the nose stimulates the body and readies it for action. A full, deep exhalation through the nose relaxes the body.

That's aldue to the impact it has on our nervous system.

SLEEP OR LACK OF IT

Suffering from bouts of 3am mind spew? Insomnia can be exhausting but long, luxuriating exhales can encourage sleep.

Exercise, such as daily yoga, is a great anti-depressant. Yoga twists can aid digestion, inversions can balance hormones and, if you are feeling sluggish in the morning, try a back bend instead of coffee. It stimulates the adrenaglands.

ATTITUDE

We can decide what out attitude is going to be, which means you can make the choice right here, right now.

Before you get out of bed, take an energising inhale and ask yourself: "What do I choose my attitude to be today and wilI be true to that choice or wilI react to other's attitudes?

How much fun can I have with this?"

Positivity - we are not talking happy clapper, Pollyanna syndrome or pink and fluffy soft stuff - increases your life span, fulstop.

WALK TALL

Think about your posture and the message it is giving to the world.

Lengthening and extending your whole body can also make you feemuch better, so why not give it a go today.

For more information about Valerie, contact valerie@yogashrink.com or cal07891727675.

CAPTION(S):

SOOTH: Twists can aid digestion; WAKE UP CALL: Yoga is great for insomnia
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 26, 2009
Words:707
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