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The Latest
Published Tuesday Mar 31, 2020 by Mindbody Team

What Mindbody is Reading/Listening to Right Now

Mindbody Community
Personal Growth

At Mindbody, we’re all trying to do our part, right now, WFH-ing, social distancing and spending as much time at home as possible. All that extra time confined at home makes it particularly tempting to mindlessly consume—whether it be a 10:15 AM lunch, out of boredom, or scrolling titles on Hulu for hours before giving up and re-watching The Office, again. 

It’s important to mix up the content we’re consuming and try to ensure we’re getting a balance of enriching content. We compiled a list of a few of our favorite books and podcasts that the Mindbody team is consciously consuming to try to keep ourselves enlightened and balanced during this time—that is, when we’re not bingeing Tiger King or Love is Blind. 

Hidden Brain [Podcast] with Shankar Vedantam 

“Makes you think about your unconscious decisions—for example, why do we all feel compelled to stockpile toilet paper right now.”  – Megan Incorvaia (Sr Manager, Advertising) 

Host Shankar Vedantam focuses his weekly shows on human behavior and social sciences. Diving deep into sociological & behavioral research to get listeners to understand the headlines through the context of human perception, memory, emotions, and subconscious. 

 

Photo source: Npr.org

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Hidden Brain [Podcast] with Shankar Vedantam 

“Makes you think about your unconscious decisions—for example, why do we all feel compelled to stockpile toilet paper right now.”  – Megan Incorvaia (Sr Manager, Advertising) 

Host Shankar Vedantam focuses his weekly shows on human behavior and social sciences. Diving deep into sociological & behavioral research to get listeners to understand the headlines through the context of human perception, memory, emotions, and subconscious. 

 

Photo source: Npr.org

Digital Minimalism [Book] By Cal Newport

“We’re spending A LOT more time online, but it can be counterintuitive to overall wellness. Digital Minimalism helps shine a light on your behavioral blind spots.” – Meredith Simmons (Sr Marketing Communications Specialist) 

Digital Minimalism takes the approach that technology—a powerful but vilified tool—is not necessarily good or bad. Cal Newport highlights that we should be consciously considering how we’re spending our time (endless scrolling on the ‘grams, anyone?), assessing what value we get from our various tech connections and social platforms, and either consolidating, prioritizing, or taking a step away from technology. 
 

Photo source: Amazon.com

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Digital Minimalism [Book] By Cal Newport

“We’re spending A LOT more time online, but it can be counterintuitive to overall wellness. Digital Minimalism helps shine a light on your behavioral blind spots.” – Meredith Simmons (Sr Marketing Communications Specialist) 

Digital Minimalism takes the approach that technology—a powerful but vilified tool—is not necessarily good or bad. Cal Newport highlights that we should be consciously considering how we’re spending our time (endless scrolling on the ‘grams, anyone?), assessing what value we get from our various tech connections and social platforms, and either consolidating, prioritizing, or taking a step away from technology. 
 

Photo source: Amazon.com

Armchair Expert [Podcast] with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman

“It’s so funny and smart but most importantly, Dax and Monica show you it’s okay to be honest, vulnerable, and sensitive” – Yuki Daniel (Executive Assistant) 

Dax Shepard, along with his co-host and longtime friend, Monica Padman have such a pointed, yet caring & humble way of interviewing. It’s not uncommon for him to prompt many of his celebrity and expert guests to open up deeply within the first five minutes of the podcast. Listening to Dax and Monica is highly entertaining and thought-provoking. A great soundtrack for cooking dinner. 

 

Photo source: Armchair Expert Facebook

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Armchair Expert [Podcast] with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman

“It’s so funny and smart but most importantly, Dax and Monica show you it’s okay to be honest, vulnerable, and sensitive” – Yuki Daniel (Executive Assistant) 

Dax Shepard, along with his co-host and longtime friend, Monica Padman have such a pointed, yet caring & humble way of interviewing. It’s not uncommon for him to prompt many of his celebrity and expert guests to open up deeply within the first five minutes of the podcast. Listening to Dax and Monica is highly entertaining and thought-provoking. A great soundtrack for cooking dinner. 

 

Photo source: Armchair Expert Facebook

When Things Fall Apart [Book] by Pema Chödrön

“Everyone can relate and get advice from this book, whether they are going through a loss, divorce, work stress, etc.” – Keana Dapper (Lifecycle Program Manager) 

Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist nun, author and speaker. Drawing from her vast knowledge and experience with traditional Buddhist Wisdom—she provides a digestible guide on how to lean into our feelings of discomfort. 

 

Photo source: Goodreads.com

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When Things Fall Apart [Book] by Pema Chödrön

“Everyone can relate and get advice from this book, whether they are going through a loss, divorce, work stress, etc.” – Keana Dapper (Lifecycle Program Manager) 

Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist nun, author and speaker. Drawing from her vast knowledge and experience with traditional Buddhist Wisdom—she provides a digestible guide on how to lean into our feelings of discomfort. 

 

Photo source: Goodreads.com

Educated: A Memoir [Book] by Tara Westover

“An incredibly interesting perspective of the power of knowledge and information.” – Angelina C Murray (Lead Acquisition Program Manager) 

A true page-turner, Educated details the childhood and journey through life of Tara Westover. Raised in a home that eschewed formal education, subject to physical and emotional abuse from unstable parents, Westover’s story of discovering and seeking out education against all odds is truly inspiring. 

 

Photo source: Tarawestover.com

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Educated: A Memoir [Book] by Tara Westover

“An incredibly interesting perspective of the power of knowledge and information.” – Angelina C Murray (Lead Acquisition Program Manager) 

A true page-turner, Educated details the childhood and journey through life of Tara Westover. Raised in a home that eschewed formal education, subject to physical and emotional abuse from unstable parents, Westover’s story of discovering and seeking out education against all odds is truly inspiring. 

 

Photo source: Tarawestover.com

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend [Podcast] with Conan O’Brien and Sona Movsesian 

“Conan's untamed, yet likeable id unleashed on his guests who, after the hour is up, unwittingly become his friends. His assistant Sona and producer Matt laugh at, and sometimes with, Conan throughout each episode. Five stars.”  – Ryan Kaltenbach (Senior Business Insights Analyst & Office Meme Master) 

This podcast may not be as enlightened or educational as some of the other picks on our list—but laughter is the best medicine—and we could all use a couple of extra giggles right now. Conan brings through A-list celebrities and top comedians for an hour plus of one third interview & two-thirds side splitting laughter. Just give it a listen. 

 

Photo source: Stitcher.com

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Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend [Podcast] with Conan O’Brien and Sona Movsesian 

“Conan's untamed, yet likeable id unleashed on his guests who, after the hour is up, unwittingly become his friends. His assistant Sona and producer Matt laugh at, and sometimes with, Conan throughout each episode. Five stars.”  – Ryan Kaltenbach (Senior Business Insights Analyst & Office Meme Master) 

This podcast may not be as enlightened or educational as some of the other picks on our list—but laughter is the best medicine—and we could all use a couple of extra giggles right now. Conan brings through A-list celebrities and top comedians for an hour plus of one third interview & two-thirds side splitting laughter. Just give it a listen. 

 

Photo source: Stitcher.com

Joyful:  The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness [Book] By Ingrid Fetell Lee 

“A good reminder that joy can be found in simple, cheap ways.”  – Christina Libertini (Senior Art Director) 

Especially now, when we’re all feeling a little bit more confined, this book gives some useful tips on how to improve our WFH spaces, our bedrooms, our lives, and find a little more joy. Drawing on insights from neuroscience and psychology, Ingrid Fetell Lee breaks down the powerful impact of the physical world on our feelings and thoughts (both good and bad). Her anecdotes are fun to read, and the—while basic—are a good reminder that joy can be found in simple, cheap ways. 

 

Photo source: Amazon.com

7

Joyful:  The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness [Book] By Ingrid Fetell Lee 

“A good reminder that joy can be found in simple, cheap ways.”  – Christina Libertini (Senior Art Director) 

Especially now, when we’re all feeling a little bit more confined, this book gives some useful tips on how to improve our WFH spaces, our bedrooms, our lives, and find a little more joy. Drawing on insights from neuroscience and psychology, Ingrid Fetell Lee breaks down the powerful impact of the physical world on our feelings and thoughts (both good and bad). Her anecdotes are fun to read, and the—while basic—are a good reminder that joy can be found in simple, cheap ways. 

 

Photo source: Amazon.com

Planet Money [Podcast] 

“This podcast actually makes me miss my commute.” – Megan Incorvaia (Sr Manager, Advertising) 

Billed as ”The Economy Explained,” Planet Money breaks down the various forces at play in the economy in a digestible and interesting way. It runs the gamut from topics—is there any difference in top-shelf vs bottom-shelf vodka beyond the marketing—to explaining how the Fed is trying to combat the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

 

Photo source: Npr.org

8

Planet Money [Podcast] 

“This podcast actually makes me miss my commute.” – Megan Incorvaia (Sr Manager, Advertising) 

Billed as ”The Economy Explained,” Planet Money breaks down the various forces at play in the economy in a digestible and interesting way. It runs the gamut from topics—is there any difference in top-shelf vs bottom-shelf vodka beyond the marketing—to explaining how the Fed is trying to combat the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

 

Photo source: Npr.org

The Body: A Guide for Occupants [Book] by Bill Bryson

“A great read in these times when our bodies have taken the headlines.” – Christina Libertini (Senior Art Director) 

Bill Bryson uses his trademark humor and strong storytelling to provide an engaging review of the human body. If you haven’t taken a biology class since high school (hi!)—this book provides a simple and entertaining walkthrough of how the human body works, one system at a time. It’s definitely not a medical textbook—but delivers on a lighthearted and anecdotal understanding of what keeps our bodies ticking. 

 

Photo source: Amazon.com

9

The Body: A Guide for Occupants [Book] by Bill Bryson

“A great read in these times when our bodies have taken the headlines.” – Christina Libertini (Senior Art Director) 

Bill Bryson uses his trademark humor and strong storytelling to provide an engaging review of the human body. If you haven’t taken a biology class since high school (hi!)—this book provides a simple and entertaining walkthrough of how the human body works, one system at a time. It’s definitely not a medical textbook—but delivers on a lighthearted and anecdotal understanding of what keeps our bodies ticking. 

 

Photo source: Amazon.com

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Written by
Mindbody Team
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About the author
We're here to provide you with the latest and greatest, tried and true wellness experiences and advice to help you live life to the fullest. From nourishing recipes and travel tips to finding the perfect sweat routine or wellness regimen—we cover it all. And if we haven't yet, it's definitely on the way.
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The Latest
Published Tuesday May 19, 2020 by Shanila Sattar

Top Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Depression and The New Normal

Meditation
Renewal
Personal Growth
Expert Advice

Inhale. 
 
 
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. 
 
 
Exhale. 
 
 
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.  


Long-term anxiety and stress can harm our bodies 

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.  


We are holding our breath

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.  


Breathing exercises can reduce stress and anxiety

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


Top breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and stress 

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. 


Belly breathing 

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. 
 
 
  
  

6-7-8 Breath 

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. 


The Box Breath 

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. 

If you'd like to try a guided breathwork class with me, click here to find one that works with your schedule! For other breathwork classes, browse Mindbody

Shanila Sattar
Written by
Shanila Sattar
Founder, AlwaysPlay Studios
About the author
Shanila is a sound healer, breathwork coach, women’s researcher, and speaker. She trains sound healers and breathwork facilitators through her mobile studio, AlwaysPlay Studios, and is the founder of the Integrative Wellness Leaders based in Los Angeles. She practices integrative wellness - considering a person's emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Her background is in tech, having co-founded an award-winning web agency, and in women’s research, specifically in mindsets, implicit bias, perfectionism, women's health, and societal experiences supported through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and several universities. She has implemented several health and wellbeing programs in underserved populations throughout Los Angeles. Shanila mentors women who are wellness entrepreneurs and on their confidence journey.