Get Happy! The secret to a happy marriage (and to a calmer commute) Expert advice on navigating life’s chaos, including mood-lifting yoga and a look back on a year of Dinner with Cupid. ← Related Article Visit The Boston Globe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Comment on this Scroll to top of page With yoga, happiness isn’t much of a stretch Dina Rudick/Globe Staff By Rebecca Pacheco Over time, yoga practitioners’ bodies become limber and strong. They can bend over more easily to tie a child’s shoe, twist farther while parallel parking, or appear more confident, thanks to better posture. But these changes are just the beginning. With enough practice, the mind also becomes flexible, focused, and clear. Today’s research confirms what yogis have believed for centuries: Happier people do not necessarily lead easier lives, they are simply more grateful and engaged in what’s positive about life (this is called santosha, or contentment). In short, yoga can help you make your mind a happier place to live — and that’s a benefit that will last long past the end of a 90-minute class. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff STRENGTHEN GRATITUDE Contentment is a skill to be practiced. Try keeping a daily journal in which you write a few things you are thankful for. Or do this simple meditation: Sit quietly and notice your breath. As you breathe in, think to yourself “gratitude to . . . ” As you breathe out, let images of people and experiences for which you are grateful come to you. Don’t force it. Just enjoy what arises. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff “JUST.” “THIS.” “All that we are is a result of what we have thought,” said the Buddha, which is why it’s important to listen to our minds and, yes, adjust our thinking as needed. Stress happens when we get ahead of ourselves, so learning to be present in the moment eases anxiety. Try this mantra: Breathe in and say to yourself or aloud, Just. Breathe out and say, This. Repeat. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff “I AM” I used this mantra while teaching meditation to more than 300 executives over a business breakfast, and a year later, some of them still tell me how relaxed and focused it made them feel. They were in suits, possibly under- or over-caffeinated, and anxious to start their workdays. Yet they learned to savor the one time all day when they did not have to fill in the blank: I am a CEO. I am a parent. I am in a meeting. Take time to just be and leave open greater possibilities. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff "MAY ALL BEINGS BE PEACEFUL, HAPPY, AND FREE" This is a traditional mantra in yoga, usually chanted in Sanskrit (yoga’s language of origin), but it evokes compassion in any language. It’s a great one to share with kids. They love it. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff MOOD LIFT Sun salutations evoke a brighter outlook. It’s also difficult to feel curmudgeonly when doing something playful. Frog hops are a fun way to boost mood. From downward dog, walk your feet up your mat until your heels touch the floor. With heels together and toes pointing outward, bend your knees deeply. Look forward, engage your core, and hop into the air, placing weight in hands. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff MELLOW OUT This version of fish pose, lying flat on your back with a block under your shoulder blades, opens the heart. . . . Dina Rudick/Globe Staff . . . Meanwhile, “viparita karani”(legs-up-the-wall) eases tension from tired legs and feet after a long day. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff This pose and the previous one are part of a family of yoga positions known as inversions, which turn us upside down — because sometimes the only thing we need to feel happier is a little shift in perspective.