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The following is a guest article from the internal Mindbody community.
Our world has turned upside down and not so much in the fun, handstand kind of way. We’ve been asked to stay inside, away from our local communities and our normal routines. As a student, not having access to my favorite yoga classes has been hard on both my body and mind (missing that hot yoga therapy sesh, le sigh). As an instructor, I worry about my peers’ livelihoods as their work comes to a halt.
The studio experience has been taken away from us.
In its absence is the opportunity to share our local favorites beyond their city limits. We have a chance to support our communities in new ways. We do that by sharing and participating in their efforts to deliver movement in innovative ways. We do that by offering support beyond our memberships. It’s up to us to help keep our small businesses afloat and our robust communities alive. The ask? Find new ways to support your favorite studios. Participate in the offerings they have created and share what they are doing. Connect with others about your experiences.
Got it? Okay, I’ll start. Here are mine.
Shine Yoga Studios
For you fellow yogis out there, this is my “home studio”. This Northern California studio is committed to its students’ home practice. Not only are they selling blocks, bolsters and mats for at-home use (prop-heavy savasana forever), but they are offering free yoga and barre classes via Vimeo. Live classes are also available. Sign up through the Mindbody app.
SLO Yoga Center
All you need is a Mindbody account to get access to this location's digital studio, where they feature nine free classes, ranging from gentle yoga to HIIT Pilates. Do yourself a favor and take the Flow and Stretch yoga class after a long day of #wfh (trust).
This beachy studio packs a huge punch. Click here and scroll all the way down for free classes from the studio’s larger-than-life owner, starting at four minutes all the way up to a full, 60-minute sweat. Keep a lookout for live classes, promoted on their Instagram.
Spark Flow? Yoga Sculpt? Bootcamp? This studio’s variety will keep your body guessing. You will break a sweat with their free digital offerings - cough, cough, Power Flow. A mat towel is a must.
This Nebraskan studio has offered its community a virtual studio for years. Within the last week, they’ve added 120 percent more content (think yoga nidra, cycle, meditation, even audio runs). They even offer virtual kids classes, too!
Brass tacks: Studios can use your help financially. There are many ways to support your second homes during this trying time. I've actually seen friends send their favorite instructors (and stylists for that matter) support via Venmo. People are getting clever, and the outpouring of support is amazing. Don’t hesitate to reach out to see how you can help. It’s up to us to keep our communities alive as more and more of us shelter in place.
These are trying times, but we will get through it together, one virtual down dog at a time.
What are your favorite studios doing to keep their community connected and moving? Tell us (and tag us) on @Mindbody!
Remember, we are getting through this together, and together we will emerge stronger. To show your local studios support during this time, please visit them on Mindbody.io or in the Mindbody app and find your favorite classes (or ones you've always wanted to try). Also, tag them on social media, along with @Mindbody, and we will support in any way we can.
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.