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At one time or another, we’ve all wished for more time. Really though, how many of us have asked for more than 24 hours in a day? Yep. All hands up, including mine. Prior to COVID-19 and sheltering in place, I was—to put it plainly—really busy. Running from one responsibility to the next was my comfort zone. Whether it was my achievement mentality or never saying “no,” my planner was consistently filled with to-dos, to-plans, and to-attends. Once a task was checked off the list, another had sneakily appeared, ready for my full attention.
This perpetual state of complexity allowed me to avoid. Being busy meant I didn’t have to do any inside work or meditation. I didn’t have time to deal with my anxiety and practice mindfulness while working full-time and going to graduate school at night. Because I always said “yes” to everything, there was no more room for activities that fueled my soul. Meditation requires hitting pause, and who has time to recharge from a busy work week with an endless weekend to-do list?
But then, things changed. External factors have now placed us into a state of forced simplicity. Our planners and to-do lists are not what they once were, and we’ve had to drastically limit what we do. Many of us find ourselves wondering how the heck we are going to fill our time. The emotions that come from that can be uncomfortable.
I know things are tough right now, and so much is out of our control. However, our power lies within our perspective.
We have been gifted with the most amazing come-up: time. In a world where we constantly run on empty, we’ve been given a chance to recharge, refuel, calm our minds, and practice meditation without distractions. A mentor once told me, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” So, instead of stepping into old patterns of creating schedules and “being productive,” let’s sit with the stillness. Get cozy with it. And seek out its lessons.
Below is your beginner's guide to starting your meditation practice (and no, the to-do list irony is not lost on me).
When was the last time you sat in silence and paid attention to how your body was feeling? Well, now’s the time. Find a time to meditate that works for you. Whether it's in the morning, on your lunch break or at the end of the day, it helps to practice meditation at the same time each day to develop a routine. Sit in a comfortable seat or lie down, and close your eyes. Notice the physical sensations—what do you feel, hear, smell, taste? Does anything ache or feel tight in your posture? How is the breath? Is it shallow or deep?
Practicing the physical aspect of meditation helps increase our mindfulness of the present moment. We literally live inside our minds, so bringing the focus to our external selves allows us to deepen our mind-body connection.
Stay in your comfortable position. Allow yourself to bring your attention to the things that worry you, and try to calm them. It could be anything, and don’t hold back. Notice what areas of the body tense as you focus. Does the chest tighten? Throat close? Maybe your stomach drops, or another entirely different sensation.
So often we are told to remain positive and focus on the good, but sometimes things suck. Practicing inward reflection and mindfulness as we meditate forces us to sit with uncomfortable feelings, acknowledging their presence. It’s a necessary validation we often don’t receive from ourselves. It’s holding space to show how our bodies respond to our thoughts.
Now, take a deep inhale—breathing into the very spots that are tense and trying to expand them with the breath. Use the exhalation to soften those tight or constricted spots, as if you could melt away the tension like butter. Repeat this breathing as many times as you need until your entire body is calm.
Regulating our breath allows us to downregulate the sympathetic nervous system, which lets us, frankly, chill the heck out. Practicing this gives us a way to manage and calm the strong emotions that come up, whether it be fear, worry, or anxiety.
As you remain in soft stillness and meditation, imagine doing something refreshing. Something that would recharge you. Think of something that would make you feel good and hopeful. Is it making a killer cup of coffee? Hiking that trail you’ve always wanted? Writing a colleague a thank-you note? Walking around the neighborhood? Cozying up on the couch? Calling a loved one? Baking a cake? Serving others by donating? Helping local small businesses?
This is your time to figure out what fills your cup. It will be different each time you meditate, and that’s the point. With this, you can start to build a toolkit to pull from when you need to reset. It’s important to actually do the thing—without guilt or worrying about what else needs to get done.
Time is a gift, and we’ve all been given more of it to some degree. When we give ourselves the freedom to use this time to meditate and refill our cups, we can better show up for others and the world. What are you doing to recharge? Let us know by posting on your Instagram story and tagging @mindbody!
Want to try a guided, virtual meditation? Check out classes on Mindbody!
It’s safe to say, the way we conquer our daily routines has changed drastically over the last few months. The way we perform our jobs, how we socialize—even the way we workout—have flipped from in-person, group settings to virtual platforms to keep us safe and healthy. There's no denying that navigating this new normal has certainly come with its ups and downs, to say the least. In fact, a recent survey revealed one-third of Americans said this pandemic has caused more stress and anxiety in their lives, which isn’t surprising given the circumstances.
With anxiety levels at a high, people need relaxation, self-care, and movement more than ever. Enter yoga.
Yoga has long been touted for its amazing ability to calm the mind and help folks stay in-tune with their body—which is probably why more and more people are embracing an at-home practice.
Whether you’re looking for a powerful Vinyasa class to help kickstart your morning or yearning for a gentle, evening flow to wind down after a busy workday, taking a yoga class is now more accessible than ever. With 91% of group fitness studios offering or planning to offer live stream and/or on-demand classes, those who are ready to get their asana on have plenty of yoga classes to try all over the country.
While there’s no place like om, most of us could go for a little virtual vacation right now. I know I could! Ready to get a taste of what yoga classes are like all over the country? Here are the U.S. cities with the most virtual yoga classes available.
It seems poetic that Chicago hits our number one spot on this list because it was the first city in America that was introduced to yoga back in 1893. Swami Vivekananda presented yoga at the World Parliament of Religions and made a speech on the concept of body, spirit, and mind. It seems the presentation made a lasting impression on the city.
Try getting your Zen on with one of these studios:
• The Lab Yoga
• Bottom Line Yoga
• Bare Feet Power Yoga
Everyone knows that Washington DC is where you can visit some of the world’s most famous monuments, memorials, and museums. But you may be surprised to learn that it also offers one of the most robust libraries of virtual classes to help yogis sample some classes at the nation’s capital.
Houston is one of the most culturally diverse cities in America—in fact, you can folks speaking 145 different languages and thousands of restaurants serving up food from more than 70 countries. If those facts have you working up quite an appetite, feel free to indulge. They also have plenty of virtual yoga classes available to help you torch some calories.
Did you know one of the first businesses to open in the City of Brotherly Love was a brewery in 1683? If you’re familiar with the ever-evolving trends of yoga, then you have most likely heard of or participated in beer yoga sesh. Get ready to try yoga the Philly way by cracking a cold one and doing some downward dogs in the comfort of your own home at the end of the day.
New York City is home to 8.4 million people, making it the most densely populated city in the entire nation. With that many people, you know there must be a ton of yogis looking to relax from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Start spreading the news and flowing with some of the most dedicated yogis in the U.S.—there are a ton of virtual yoga classes to choose from in the Big Apple.
Get ready to make some virtual yoga neighbors. Did you know that Columbus, Ohio is considered the heart of the country? The reason for that is because nearly half of the America’s residents live within a 600-mile radius of the city. Ready to put your heart and soul into your at-home yoga practice? Then check out what this city has to offer virtually.
San Diego is known as one of the happiest cities in America—mainly because of the beautiful weather, picturesque beaches, and the abundance of yoga classes available. While a vacation to this area may not be in the books for this year, you can certainly flow with the best of them by booking a virtual class at a San Diego studio.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the yoga studios offering virtual classes to help you stay fit, healthy, and calm during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope these offerings inspire you to either start a new at-home practice or are helping you seasoned yogis continue your path to wellness. Interested in seeing what other cities are hosting a bevy of online yoga classes? The options on Mindbody are endless—literally!