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yoga

meditation

Power of the Mind

I began adding meditation into my nightly routine about a year ago. Back then I didn’t truly understand it and it was incredibly hard for me. “Start with just 30 seconds and go from there,” they said. “Let your mind go blank.”

30 seconds, I thought. I can do anything for 30 seconds. It turns out, 30 seconds of meditation was impossible for me. I tried not to think about anything. I tried to put my mind at complete silence, but failed, so I gave up. Meditation just isn’t for me, I thought.

Then began the panic attacks. They started off maybe once a month and after 6 or 7 months it became weekly. Weekly turned into not sleeping for days at a time. Just as I was about to fall asleep, I would shoot back up again in bed, barely able to catch my breath. My heart was pounding out of my chest and my body shaking.

I went to the doctor and she told me that the panic attacks stem from my mind not being able to succumb to sleep. That I had so much running through my mind at night, it didn’t know how to stop. She put me on anxiety medication. It took about a week, but the panic attacks began to lessen and eventually they disappeared. It took about 3 months to get the dosage just right where I wasn’t falling asleep in my chair during the day or feeling nauseous.

I hated it, taking a pill every day. It wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to make a lifelong commitment to a pill. I didn’t want to rely on a pill to fix me. I wanted to fix myself. My Dr. recommended I introduce some sort of relaxation into my nightly routine using an app, so I downloaded Calm.

First I started out with their adult sleep stories. I focused hard on making sure to follow along instead of being interrupted by my own thoughts. It was hard at first. If I caught myself being distracted, I would quickly refocus. After a few nights, I found myself falling asleep before the stories were even over. Now, I alternate between nightly sleep stories and meditation.

Those 30 minutes before bedtime have become my solace. During that time I wash away the day’s stress. I forget about what I have to do tomorrow and lie still. I check in with myself and what really matters — me. It wasn’t easy. I am always going a hundred miles an hour. Taking time for myself was always on the backburner, but for my well-being and truthfully, the sanity of others, it was time.

We deal with so much pressure on a daily basis. We’re constantly judging ourselves, climbing on our pedestals and falling off them. Who we’re suppose to be and what we’re supposed to do is constantly hanging over our heads. All of that took it’s toll on me. So much was being thrown at me and I didn’t have the right tools to handle it.

Meditation has given me those tools to take control of it all. To reevaluate my priorities and to truly understand the power of the mind and the healing ability of a single breath. We cannot carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We have to learn to let go. To inhale the positive and exhale the negative.

It’s been 3 months without medication. 3 months with daily meditation. I haven’t had a single panic attack. A direct result, I believe, of slowing down, showing up for myself and saying, I’m here.

 

amy

5 Tips to Help You Rock Your First Barre Class

Amy Sinclair is a full time yoga and barre instructor living in the Boston area.  She teaches a method of barre infused with yoga, to challenge the body and center the mind. If the thought of taking a barre class intimidates you, than you have come to the right place today! Amy is going to give you 5 tips to rock your first barre class.

Barre classes are gaining popularity, and for good reason! Barre classes are an effective, fun, safe, and unique way to exercise.  As with any new group fitness class you try, you might not know what to expect during your first class.  As a full time barre instructor teaching 15 classes a week, I’m here to give you some tips to get you ready for your first barre class.  I frequently have new people join my classes, and I love to help them navigate their way through their first class, so this is one of my favorite topics.  By following these 5 key principles, you will have a successful and enjoyable first experience, and you will be coming back for more of that addictive barre burn!

 

  1. Preparation

This one is obvious:  find out what you need for class, and come prepared.  Every studio is different; some require you to wear grippy socks (and might make you purchase $15 socks if you come without them!), while other places practice barefoot.  Some places supply the mats, while others ask you to bring your own.  Take a look on the website of the studio for this information, and if you don’t see it, send a quick email to the studio to find out.  As a general rule, and what I have seen, carpeted studios have you wear the grippy socks, and studios with hardwood or other types of flooring go barefoot. 

Arrive 10-15 minutes before class to get acquainted, check in, and sign any waivers at the studio.  You will definitely want to wear comfortable athletic clothes you can move in and aren’t tripping over (no expensive gear required), and bring a water bottle.

Prepare your body for class by eating 1-2 hours before class starts, and staying hydrated.

  1. Communication

Let the instructor know you are new, and ask them for help setting up.  Some places will lay out all the props you need, while others have you set up your own.  Generally you will need some hand weights, and possibly other fun things like balls, pilates rings, blankets, yoga blocks and straps, etc.   These may vary each class based on what the instructor has planned, so it’s good to ask what you will need!

Tell the instructor anything they will need to know about your body such as injuries, physical limitations, and pregnancy.  Some barre moves are contraindicative for pregnancy, ankle, knee, elbow, or lower back injuries.  There are plenty of ways to modify these exercises to work with your limitations and make them safe for you, but you need to communicate with the teacher to find out what those are. Do this before class starts, and the teacher will be able to have a conversation with you about different modifications.

  1. Awareness

      Barre classes are intense, so you will need to be physically present in your body and mind to make it through the class.  There are a couple easy ways to do this: pace yourself, focus on your breath, and listen for alignment cues.  No one gets all of this right on the first try, so be patient with yourself.  Pacing yourself will help you make it through difficult sets. Breathing deeply and consistently will help you stay connected to your body, and give your muscles the oxygen they need!  Listening to alignment and movement cues is super important in a barre class.  The alignment is crucial, and it is more important to get the form right then to complete all the reps. Sometimes the alignment cues are subtle, and it takes time to learn how to articulate your body in those ways, so again, be patient with yourself, and keep your ears and eyes open to receiving this new information.

  1. Interaction

After class, let the instructor know what you thought, what questions you had, and how it felt in your body.  I love barre so much and have a curious nature, so as a teacher, I want to hear how your first experience went.  If you had questions about why your thighs were shaking (because we worked them to the point of fatigue!) , or want to know if you got the form right, just take a moment to talk to the teacher after class.  Also, try bringing a friend to class because everything is more fun with a friend! You can discuss your experiences with each other, and maybe you can even grab a smoothie after class and make it a date!

  1. Have Fun!

Jerry of Ben & Jerry’s once said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”  I agree completely.  Barre classes are tough, but they can definitely be fun if you keep an open mind, and have a light-hearted approach.  Being a beginner can be difficult, but embrace the learning curve, stay open and aware, and have fun with it.  Give yourself a couple classes before making a final judgement on barre.  Your first class may feel like a whirlwind, but sign up for a second or third class so you can give it another try now that you know what to expect.

Have you taken a barre class before? What are some tips you would give others? 

Stay in touch with Amy:

Instagram: @amysinclairyoga