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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.
Since 1992, April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month. It was established to help shed light on the issues behind stress, teach us how to fight it, and create methods to overcome it. While this initiative has existed just shy of three decades, this year it seems particularly important.
With a year under our belts in pandemic mode—a lot of us had to get creative when it came to keeping our cool. On top of that, everyday stresses didn’t just magically disappear during this time either. Just think about it—have you ever been in a situation that was overwhelming? Maybe you’ve had a looming deadline or a to-do list that seems, well...totally un-doable? If you’ve ever felt you were in over your head, please know you’re not alone—you never are. At one time or another, we’ve all been affected by stress—although each person may manifest it differently. Me? I'm definitely a frequent rider on the "hot mess stress express."
There are many ways to help combat stress—some of us seek out support from friends and family, while others find solace in taking up meditation or unwinding with a relaxing yoga class. Whatever helps you find peace, just keep doing you. But also know we have some resources to help you overcome stress whenever the need arises.
Here are some blog posts that are always available to you when you feel a little stressed out:
When in doubt, breathwork expert and sound healer, Shanila Sattar, always has tips to help ground yourself—especially in times of need. In this blog post, she gives you the recipe for incorporating self-love into your daily routine by encouraging us to ask ourselves these questions: How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love? As we all know, self-love defines and redefines itself for everyone over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
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?)
TLDR: I learned that I could conquer stress in a matter of minutes with Yoga Nidra.
Are we safe in saying this last year brought up a ton of emotions the likes of which we did not plan for? The good, the bad, the “unprecedented”—our hearts and minds have been taken on a wild rollercoaster ride, and for many of us, our mental health is suffering. With our minds running in thousands of directions, it’s hard to notice our own needs. Yes, our attention to the goings-on of last year is vital but caring for ourselves is as important as ever. Here are some tips from our favorite yoga instructor, Dani Schenone.
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last year is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.
If you've got those familiar feelings of stress and anxiety coursing through your body right now, you're definitely not alone. We get it. Times are uncertain, our mental health is taxed, we're doing what we can to reduce stress and anxiety in general, and relaxation has taken a back seat. It’s no secret that stress is proven to weaken our immunity, so now more than ever, it's important to relax, deal with what's happening, and find the coping mechanisms to help you reclaim your mental health and reduce your involvement in stressed moments. Let's deal with stress and anxiety together and see what we can do to reduce them.
Meditation will change your life if you let it. The pace of our modern life is at least ten times what it was just 10 years ago. Technology improved our lives but also created a more frenetic and stressful pace. If we decided to stop, breathe, and become more mindful, we would reduce stress and experience much more enjoyment in each moment of our everyday lives.
There’s always something to worry about. Whether it’s our career, relationships, dating, or trauma, we go through moments that bombard us with negative thoughts that can make us feel anxious and stressed. Our worries may often define our choices, our view of the world, or ourselves. This doesn’t mean they are faults, flaws, or downfalls—we just need to practice managing them in a healthy way, placing deserved value on self-care. Yoga is only one connection. Check out these seven yoga poses that can help your mind and body when you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or overall stress.
We’re all guilty of our routines and habits running our lives at one point or another. We’re all guilty of being attached to our schedules and our to-do list. We’re all guilty of running on a loop every now and then. As the energies of 2021 continue to shift, we get to ask ourselves the intentions of why and how we are participating in the places we are participating in, the thoughts we are thinking, the habits we are cultivating, and the communities that we are a part of. This intention and mindfulness process can not only shift our own experiences but of those around us as well.
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try virtual sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long-term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
These resources aren’t the only thing we have to help you deal with stress—they’re just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are tons of classes available to you on the Mindbody app and through Mindbody Flex to help you reignite your calm whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. And always remember, at the end of the day, your best is always good enough.