An expert shares her mental health tips.
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Power Life Yoga Barre Fitness. The name truly says it all–Power Life offers a wide range of classes to suit everyone from the first-time yogi to the seasoned athlete. That's why we're excited to go live with them on our IGTV (keep an eye on our Instagram @mindbody for the date)!
Here are the top 5 reasons you should tune in to Power Life on our IGTV—and head into their studios as soon as they reopen:
Power Life is rooted in the principals of power yoga, so you can expect your breath to take center stage. And, let’s be honest, who couldn’t use a reminder to consciously breathe every once in a while? But they have an extensive product offering of 7 different class formats to meet a wide range of fitness goals. Classes vary from power vinyasa, to yin, to yoga sculpt, to F.I.T. (functional interval training), so there’s truly something for everyone. No matter what class you take, you’re sure to leave feeling better about your day than when you started, says student Eric B.
Heat plays a huge role in Power Life’s identity. The majority of their classes are taught in a heated or semi-heated environment, so no matter which one you take you’ll definitely break a sweat. Of course, there are some class formats that include traditional cardio moves. (Who doesn’t love a few burpees now and then?!) But the heated rooms ensure your heart rate stays elevated even in classes that are less intense.
Starting a new workout routine or shaking up an old one is stressful enough without having to worry about fitting into some sort of exclusive club. Power Life prides itself on putting people first. “From the first time I entered Power Life, I have felt accepted and supported,” says longtime student Matthew R. At Power Life, you’re more than just a body on a mat in a class. You matter. You can always expect a kind smile and a warm welcome every time you step foot into a Power Life studio (did we mention there are 8 between Des Moines, IA and Kansas City, MO?) or tune in virtually. Power Life’s teachers are encouraged to not only know their students by name but to develop real, lasting relationships outside the studio, too.
Being quiet is so not Power Life’s style! “People are always hanging out before and after class,” says student Michelle P., “the [other students and teachers] are what make every class so much fun!” You can always expect an amazing playlist and plenty of opportunities to interact with both your neighbors and your teacher.
“The inspirational teachers make me feel energized and peaceful after every class,” says Amanda L. Power Life prides itself on employing some of the best teachers in the industry. No matter where you are on your fitness journey, you can always count on a sweat session at Power Life to offer a message that is timely, relatable and encouraging. Power Life’s tagline, Find Your Fire, is about a whole lot more than just working up a sweat in their heated studios. They hope the time spent on their mats helps students ignite a spark within that inspires them to reach for their very best lives.
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last few weeks 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.
During times of high stress, our bodies experience a physiological strain, where essentially everything from our heart, muscles, blood, and energy have to work harder than needed in order to keep functioning at a minimum. Our body’s natural processes, like breathing, can get compromised, lessening the healing functions of the nervous system, and overworking our adrenal system. Stress management is almost non-existent. This overtaxing of the body disrupts the natural flow of energy and resources, and puts us in something known as the “fight or flight” mode. In this mode, we are constantly deciding if there is some kind of real danger and how to survive it. We feel these signals when our heart rate and blood pressure rise, our stress responses like sweating and either constricted or super fast breathing occur, and our feel-good hormones become compromised.
As we process anxiety, not only do we mentally and emotionally feel the repercussions, we also physically confuse our systems that are doing their best to naturally heal us. Staying in a state of continued anxiety with an overactive sympathetic nervous system can be incredibly damaging to your health, even if it is a small amount of stress that collects over time. Stress suppresses our immunity, digestion, deep breathing, disrupts sleep, and eating patterns, impacts mood, energy levels, and much more.
Studies show that over 50% of adults are essentially holding their breaths. They do a shallow type of breathing known as thoracic breathing, where you breathe lightly into your chest instead of into your diaphragm. For example, notice how you’re breathing right now. You’re likely holding your breath to some extent and you’re probably not breathing much at all. If you’re asked to partake in a deep breathing exercise now, you’ll puff up your chest and shoulders, and empty out your stomach. Guilty?
If you’ve ever seen a baby breathe or the breathing technique of someone in deep sleep, you’ll notice that their bellies rise and fall; the oxygen goes directly into a natural deep belly breath. Adults, however, have become acclimated to holding our breaths without meaning to. When we can slow down and practice deep breathing, we send physical and neurological signals through our entire body that asks us to rest.
The great news is that there are easy breathing exercises we can do at home that do not take a lot of time or effort. An incredible tool that anyone can use in times of high stress is remembering to inhale and exhale. Yes, breathing. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended breathwork not simply as an immunity building tool, but as a way to balance emotional and mental wellbeing. Deep breathing and other breathwork improves the body’s overall functions; improves the respiratory system, builds protective mucus in the nose, oxygenates and blood and brain, improves digestion, alkalizes the full body, and much more. Each style of breathwork sends special physiological signals—some ask us our bodies to slow down and chill, to get out of fight mode, and bring us back to equilibrium where our body’s natural healing systems can be activated; some styles of breathwork ask to pump up and energize.
It’s common to find yourself rushing through breathing practices or feel like you need to set aside special time for it. But that’s the point. We get to slow down, and we get to implement these practices even if there are distractions, business, and no perfect zen meditation corners in our homes. We can do these anytime, anywhere.
If you’ve been feeling any small symptoms of anxiousness or stress, now is the perfect time to incorporate some incredibly easy and effective breathwork techniques into your day-to-day.
This breathing technique can be done at any time of the day, for as long as you want. It’s recommended to practice this for at least 30 seconds to start and several times throughout the day. It’s a breath technique to practice before going to sleep as well. As you’re doing this breath, imagine your stomach like a big pump. As you breathe in, you’re expanding; as you breathe out, you’re emptying out.
1. Put your hands on your belly/abdomen area.
2. Take a big breath through the nose and PUSH your hands away from the belly as you breathe in. Expand your stomach as much as possible and try not to puff up your chest.
3. Slowly exhale through the mouth and constrict your belly inwards. Feel free to make a sound with the mouth when you do this.
4. Repeat for a minimum of 30 seconds.
The 6-7-8 breath can be done at any time of the day to calm anxiousness and stress, especially before doing to sleep. It’s a self-soothing technique that helps relax and calm the nervous system. You can do this practice sitting up or laying down.
1. Close down your eyes.
2. Relax your mouth.
3. Take a deep breath in through your nose for 6 full seconds. Count in your head and maintain an even pace.
4. Hold this breath for 7 seconds.
5. Pucker your mouth and exhale out through the mouth with a “whoooooossh” sound for 8 seconds.
6. Repeat this 6-7-8 breath for at least 5 rounds, or as long as you wish.
You can adjust the 6-7-8 counts to accommodate your pace. You can try a 4-5-6 sequence, or an 8-9-10 sequence. Play around with the length of time that feels good for your body. Some people love to sit by an analog clock for the ticking sound to help keep pace; some love to incorporate music.
This is another easy technique that can be done at any time of the day.
1. Breathe in for 4 seconds through the nose.
2. Hold for 4 seconds.
3. Exhale for 4 seconds through the nose.
4. Hold for 4 seconds.
5. Repeat at least 5 times.
You can play around with the timing for 6 seconds, 8 seconds, and so on to see what works best for your body.
These are the top three breathwork techniques to manage anxiety and stress. Plenty of other techniques work on sleep, inner healing, subconscious programming, altered states of consciousness, and more. Play with the three techniques above and see what feels great for you. It’s common to find a sense of calm almost immediately, some gentle tingling, and relaxation! As we’re adjusting to the new normal, let’s all contribute to creating peace both inside and out.