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Self-care is vital as we head into a busy pumpkin carving season filled with cold and flu viruses. Prepping your immune system with supplements, healthy foods, regular exercise, and staying hydrated are all the basics. But what if you could take it one step further and exponentiate these fall health benefits with your yoga practice?
During the fall season, acupuncture professionals work towards strengthening the lymphatic system, lungs, and intestines to keep the immune system healthy. You are what you eat, but if your gut isn’t able to sufficiently absorb and process your nutrients versus excrete waste, then the immune system can struggle. Promoting lung and intestinal health is very effective as a preventive care method, and you can modify your yoga practice to encourage the same benefits.
You can promote your immunity by deepening your breath to clean out your lungs, twisting from the waist to invigorate the organ's natural filtration responses, and stretching the myofascial tissues to encourage hydration—and release toxins.
Here’s a simple fall yoga sequence based on this concept to help you reap the health benefits of the autumn season.
Release tension and loosen tight neck muscles to get started.
Sitting comfortably with your right arm over your head, allow your right hand to cup your left ear and—without pulling—drop your right ear towards your shoulder. Next, press into your left hand straight down towards the ground and slowly drop your chin to your chest to feel that awesome stretch through the neck muscles. Hold for three deep breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
Use three-part breathing to unwind and de-stress, all while clearing your lungs. Lowering stress levels will improve immune health dramatically.
Start with one hand on your chest and take a sip of air to fill your chest. Without exhaling, move your hand to your lower ribs and sip more air to fill the diaphragm. Move your hand to your belly and sip even more air to fill your belly. When you are full of air, begin to exhale to empty just your belly. Then move your hand back to your ribs and exhale to empty the diaphragm. Finally, move the hand back to your chest to empty all the air. Go slowly and repeat this five times.
This long hold is great for stretching the chest wall to help open the diaphragm and lungs. It is relaxing and perfect for decompressing after a stressful week.
Take a rolled-up blanket or a small rectangular cushion and slide it between your shoulder blades as you lie on your back. Rest your head on a block or the top of the cushion so your neck isn’t strained. Let your arms fall open on either side of you, and feel free to bend or straighten your legs to relax. Stay for as long as three minutes if you like.
Add even more lung and diaphragm clearing by starting in a loose forward fold with your knees slightly bent. Gently roll up to standing, reaching your arms up and overhead.
Take a long sip of air in and as you exhale with open mouth and eyes wide. Cactus your arms around your ears and stick your tongue out. Then sip the air back in and reach your hands to touch overhead before forward folding down through the heart center and dangling upside down in ragdoll for a couple of breaths. This tongue-out action elevates the hyoid bone below your chin and above your thyroid, to encourage the digestive process from the top down. You could repeat this a few times over to really reap the benefits.
Rocking in this backbend shape massages the intestines to help filter out waste and toxins.
Reach back and catch one or both feet or ankles. Press your thighs towards each other to keep your back safe, and kick your feet into your hands. Then very gently rock front to back and side to side.
Get deeper into a belly massage (and undo the backbend above) using this easy twist.
From a seated position, place your hand on your opposite knee and twist to look over your shoulder. Remember, it’s not about how far you turn your head; it’s about how much you twist from your middle. Return to neutral and repeat on the opposite side.
This shape is incredibly underrated.
Savasana is about engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, which encourages de-stressing and promotes our “rest and digest” response. Decreasing stress is a great way to promote a healthy immune system, so stay here for eight minutes— that is about how long it can take to interact with that parasympathetic response.
Repeat something similar to this as part of your self-care regimen this season and see how it makes you feel!
To say the last year and a half was tough would be an understatement. In fact, it will probably go down as one of the most difficult times for our modern generation. In one of the many social polls we conducted during the pandemic, some of you described this time as a sheer “dumpster fire” or “like stepping on a Lego.” And to be honest, I couldn’t agree more.
Luckily, we’ve been able to get back to some form of normalcy in our lives and wellness routines over the last several months. As vaccines became available to the public, wellness businesses welcomed fitness fanatics, haircut seekers, and massage lovers back to in-person wellness experiences. And thank goodness for that—my roots and horrible posture from working from my bed were both getting wildly out of control. This girl needed a good massage and cupping session stat.
If there’s one thing we learned from the pandemic, it’s that our wellness routines are as personal as they are important. During shelter-at-home, those routines looked a bit different. For many, it meant taking a new approach to the “typical” wellness services we count on—I’m looking at you DIY haircuts, at-home waxing sessions (ouch!), and virtual swerking classes.
Now that we can leave our humble abodes to take advantage of in-person experiences again, the word “wellness” has seemingly taken on a new meaning.
Recently, we conducted another one of our famous social polls to see what wellness means to you, our Mindbody community, now that we're slowly but surely getting back to our regularly scheduled programming. We also tapped some of our most influential Mindbody business owners about the ever-evolving wellness landscape.
Here’s what you all had to say.
According to our annual Mindbody Wellness Index, 60% of Americans say they’re more focused on their health and wellness since COVID. Consumers are now realizing they need to take greater care of themselves to optimize and preserve their health. When we asked you on Instagram how important wellness is, a whopping 98% said it was more important than ever. When it comes to how you’re practicing wellness, though, the answers were all over the board. Many of you pointed to journaling, practicing breathwork, and daily workout routines (cycling and yoga topped the list) as being the activities that help you keep your chill throughout the week.
I’m also happy to report that over 50% said you tend to feel more blessed than stressed on a daily basis—which is more than likely a big improvement. Let’s be honest, a year ago I would’ve bet a billion dollars that 99.9% of us knew no other feeling than anxiety—am I right? But even with the stress in our lives dwindling, many of you are still experiencing burnout at the end of a long work week (guilty!). But instead of succumbing to a bottle of wine for relief (please, that was so 2020), you’re unwinding by going to your favorite workout classes—with hot yoga, barre, and Pilates as your faves.
Let’s be honest, we should credit the business owners in this space for helping us reignite our spark when it comes to our wellness routines, right? Thanks to them, we’ve been inspired to prioritize the activities that help us feel our best. In turn, we thought it’d be interesting to learn what wellness means to them—and how that definition has changed over the past eighteen months.
Here’s what they had to say.
“Wellness is living in balance—mind, body, spirit. Highs and lows. It all ebbs and flows and we can navigate it a bit better when we take time to move, breath and remember who we are, and how we are connected to this big, beautiful world.” - Jess Pierno, Founder, Owner, and Chief Inspiration Officer of Yoga Heights
“Wellness is a true balancing of the mental, physical, and spiritual. It has definitely evolved over the years for me—from something that I just thought was about exercising and eating a healthy diet—to also incorporating balancing and healing internally and spiritually.” - Stefanie Patterson, Owner, Indianapolis Salt Cave and Halotherapy Center
“My sense of wellness has evolved from staying healthy and motivated, mind/body/spirit... to being more gentle with myself, less demanding. Accepting my limitations, taking time for resting, and gaining real clarity about what's important. I care less about what people think of me—difficult as a performer and as a business owner with so many demands on me—and more about getting quiet and tapping into the divine source inside of me that helps me discern my next move. In this way, I know my motives are as pure as possible and I'm not getting distracted—not that I don't make mistakes! Those are necessary, that's how we learn!” - Johanna Krynytzky, Owner, Hip Expressions Belly Dance Studio
“My studio name reminds us that we are constantly evolving. The past 18 months have certainly shown us that! Wellness to me means doing your best on any given day to make sure that you are taking care of yourself as best you can. It leads to resilience. Diet, exercise, sleep, a sense of community, and some form of faith. It all matters. Setbacks happen all the time, and every day is a chance to start again. We strive to be 'cheerleaders' for our clients when we sense that things are coming out of balance in their lives. So many have been with us for 18 years and are friends—they are our community and we all watch out for each other.” - Mo Wolfe, Owner and Founder, Evolution Pilates
I think we can all agree that there isn’t one true definition of wellness anymore. To some of us, it means getting that hot yoga sesh in daily, and to others, it means carving out time to treat ourselves to a massage or manicure. As long as you’re actively pursuing wellness—whatever that means to you—you're on the right track.
Our MO has always been about connecting the world to wellness—a term that's seen a lot of change lately. Whether you’re fully embracing the in-person experience or still delighted by the convenience of practicing at-home wellness, the Mindbody app makes it easy for you to book experiences that help you feel like YOU again.