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To say the world is stressed out because of the COVID-19 pandemic would be an understatement. In fact, not too far into this crisis, I noticed my Fitbit App had added a new feature into their system which went far beyond tracking your physical fitness—I now had a new goal to practice mindfulness at least three days a week. As a yoga instructor myself, I know the importance of practicing mindfulness through meditation, and I was shocked to realize that I hadn’t taken the extra steps to keep my sanity in check by taking time to relax and meditate more often during this time. I was doing a self-practice of vinyasa flow every day, but I started noticing the physical aspect of my yoga practice wasn’t enough to alleviate my stress.
So, at the end of each at-home vinyasa practice, I decided I would take an extra 10 minutes each day to exit the physical world and meditate. However, because 2020 now holds the world record in being the most challenging year of all time, I noticed that being in charge of my own meditation was quite a struggle. My mind was having a hard time drifting into bliss and instead kept going over to-do lists—I simply couldn’t focus on relaxing.
That’s when I knew I needed to turn to a guided meditation—specifically Yoga Nidra to help me get to a state of calm I so desperately needed. I have used Yoga Nidra to help me overcome insomnia in the past—and even got certified in it because it literally changed my life. Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and it aims to restore the mind, body, and soul through deep, guided meditation. The way it works is like the way a power nap helps one feel refreshed during a particularly exhausting day, except you aren’t technically sleeping. I describe it as a long-form of savasana—anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. (Real talk: savasana is one of the best parts of practicing yoga, am I right?)
Ready to unwind and grab some much-needed rest and relaxation, I started scrolling through an abundant list of virtual meditation classes on the Mindbody app. Knowing how powerful a Yoga Nidra class can be, I decided to book a class at night because I knew I would be in such a state of Zen that I really couldn't expect myself to even be able to focus on mindless television (I’m looking at you, The Bachelorette) after a class.
As a yoga instructor in Phoenix, I've been to my fair share of in-person guided meditation classes in the Valley of the Sun, I felt like trying something totally new and opted to go on a virtual vacation for my meditation experience. With the world at my fingertips, I decided to try a Yoga Nidra class at Hot Yoga Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
A few minutes after I booked, I received a confirmation email letting me know I’d receive the link to my class 30 minutes before it started. After finishing up dinner the evening of my class, I changed into my favorite cozy sweater and yoga pants, rolled out my mat, and got ready to drift off to (yogic) sleep.
Pro tip: If you're interested in taking your virtual meditation practice to the next level by trying out multiple studios all over the country, you should look into trying out Mindbody Flex. Mindbody Flex lets you try all the best livestream fitness classes from the comfort of your own home at a super affordable rate. There are thousands of livestream classes to choose from, at hundreds of great studios—and more and more studios are opting in to Flex each week. Check out this blog post to get all the deets on a Mindbody Flex membership.
When I logged into class, I was greeted by my instructor, Amber, and a handful of other students. For the first few minutes of class, Amber went over what Yoga Nidra was and encouraged us to get into a comfy position. Since your body temperature can drop while in guided meditation, I made sure to have my favorite blanket next to me in case I got too cold during the practice. Also living in the middle of the city, I popped in my headphones to make sure I wouldn’t get distracted by any outside noises.
I laid down on my mat, closed my eyes, and focused on Amber’s soothing voice. After setting the scene at a secluded beach location where we could only hear the waves crashing against the shoreline, Amber led us through one of my favorite techniques in Yoga Nidra called a body scan. This is where you’re encouraged to focus your awareness on specific parts of the body and trigger them to relax—starting at the crown of your head and working your way down to the tips of your toes.
Already feeling myself start to drift off, she then moved on to another relaxation technique that requires you to focus on deep breathing. In this portion of the class, we were told to count our inhales and exhales backward starting at the number 25. I think I may have made it as far as 15, and then I was out for the count. The next thing I realized, she was bringing us back from our guided mediation and a whole hour had gone by. With every student in a delighted, relaxed haze, Amber sealed in our practice with a final meditation and sent us on our way.
I was so relaxed after this class that nothing could faze me—I mean this was like a glass-of-wine-while-taking-a-bubble- bath kind of feeling of elation. With so many things stressing people out right now, virtual guided meditation is a gift for anyone looking to up their mindfulness game and escape from the world. One session is all it took to convince me to add it to my weekly rotation. This is not a trend you want to sleep on—or will you?
Ready to see how a virtual guided meditation can help you stay cool, calm, and collected during COVID-19? Book a class at Hot Yoga Capitol Hill or browse virtual meditation on Mindbody.
For the first time ever, the globe will be watching surfing take center stage at the 2020 (postponed to July 2021) Olympics. People from all over the world will be appreciating the sport, many for the first time.
This symbolizes the surfing community breaking through centuries of negative stereotypes. Though conditions play a big part in the sport, the biggest hurdle the athletes will have to overcome to see success is mental. The winner will be the one who chooses their waves wisely with their understanding of the conditions and ability to intimidate and therefore overcome components. Meanwhile, they will be challenging themselves to emerge from crashing barrels, fly into the air, and land on the shifting surface gracefully. No big deal.
You’ve probably heard the invention of a wave pool, which creates the perfect man-made wave. In 2007, Kelly Slater founded his wave company with a passion to build the perfectly rideable wave at his surf ranch. It was debated whether the Olympics should be held in the ocean or on a manufactured wave, with many differing opinions on what would be right. The decision was made, and the event will take place in the sea, at Tsurigasaki Beach in Japan, about 40 miles east of Tokyo, where the rest of the 2021 games will be hosted.
As you watch, take a moment to reflect on the century of effort for this to happen. This initiative can be traced all the way back to the 1912 summer games that took place in Stockholm. Duke Kahanamoku, known as the father of modern surfing, won three gold medals in swimming, and while accepting his medal, he expressed that it was his dream to see surfing be added. To add fuel to the fire, International Surfing Association, recognized as the surfing world's governing authority by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), began lobbying for the inclusion of surfing in the Olympics in 1955.
Surfing is a multidimensional sport unlike any other. Nothing compares to paddling out to the serene silence that awaits beyond the breaking waves. Once you get out there, you immediately escape the many annoyances ingrained in everyday life—the constant notifications on your phone and laptop, your back-to-back schedule, answering to other people. You’re no longer on the time that your watch reads, you’re on mother nature’s time. You’re also no longer in control of your surroundings. Now, all you can do is surrender and wait for the next set to come, while trying to position yourself for when it does.
The high from catching the perfect wave is so addicting that surfers would fail on one hundred in a row just to catch that one. After you catch that perfect one, you replay it in your mind for the rest of the day.
A successful session is reliant on so many factors of mother nature—a force way bigger than us. For ideal conditions to exist, a good-sized swell must approach from the right direction, the wind must be flowing offshore, and you have to time your session right with the ebb and flow of the tide.
The sport is always teaching you life lessons. It is humbling, even if you’ve been practicing it for many years. One reason why it takes so long to master is that the conditions are going to be different every time you get out there. You might have caught a million yesterday, but today makes you feel like a kook because you can’t land one decent wave.
The community of people that you become a part of when you surf is special. A shared obsession with the ocean that brings you to dive into the water at dawn to get a session in bonds you quick. When you’re out there, you’ll find yourself interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. People enjoy sharing the stoke of the sport. When you see someone out there teaching somebody new, you’ll encounter them cheering at the top of their lungs when they catch a good wave, and as you look around, you’ll see smiles all across the lineup. The other day, I caught a long wave in to be met with a cheering crowd of locals who frequent the spot that I do. When I got to shore, a local showed me their secret stash of hot packs to access in case I, or someone else, gets stung by a stingray when they aren’t around.
Being out in the ocean and abiding by her rules gives surfers a deep love and connection to nature. It’s common to see sea animals out there, like dolphins, stingrays, and fish. When you have an encounter, it’s a reminder that we are invading their territory. It sucks when you see trash floating in the water, or on the sand in its route to the water. It’s a sad reminder of the negative impact that humans can have on natural environments. It inspires you to pick up trash and advocate for sustainability so that we, as a collective, can take care of the beauty that we are lucky to have access to.
Tune in to see surfing break into the biggest international sporting event in the world beginning on Saturday, July 24th.
Do you live by the ocean? Paddle out with an instructor.
Don't live by the water, but still want to train for your next surf trip? Consider these classes.
If your location isn't listed above, browse Mindbody to see if they are available in your city.