There is a difference between relieving and releasing stress. To release stress through exercise you need mind-body awareness and a willingness to let it go.
I was a competitive runner in high school and college. Running kept me sane during my tumultuous teenage years. It was a physical escape that came with a rush of endorphins and it allowed me to happily indulge my sweet tooth.
Like many, during the pandemic, I turned to online fitness classes to stay in shape.
What I didn’t know, is that my feelings about exercise were going to change forever.
It all happened when my good friend introduced me to The Class.
It broke me. Open. The Class focuses on alternating high intensity physical exercise with the regulation of your nervous system. Picture three minutes of burpees followed by your hand on your heart. On repeat. It feels like safety and love, all while breathing heavily and breaking a sweat.
And it works.
Exercise used to feel like a punishment, now it feels like a welcome release of stuck and stored energy. Yes, I’ve cried in The Class. Several times. Not because a move was too hard, but because the hard move was met with awareness, curiosity, and acceptance.
The teachers focus on mind over matter, not in the familiar “no pain, no gain” way, but rather as an invitation to let go of the stress we hold in our bodies. They give you permission to let it go. And it can be a magical release...but only if you're wiling.
You might be thinking this is a bit wacky. But I bet you're aware that you hold your stress in your body, yes?
Is it in your shoulders? Jaw? Neck? It’s normal. Many of us live our lives in constant stress which creates negative emotions which then leads to anxiety and physical disfunction.
The question is what's the best way to release it?
Release it. Not relieve it. There is a difference.
We can relieve stress with things like social interaction, breath work, supplementation, and of course, CBD. After a hard day, I’m all for happy hour or Netflix and chill, but those don’t actually release stress that gets stored in the body, they just temporarily relieve it. They are more like nice band-aids.
However, to actually release stress in your body, you need to be present and aware of both body and mind. Because as medium and meditator leader, Jill Willard, says,
“Closed mind, closed body.”
You can’t release one without the other. You also need to be willing and ready to let go of the stress. We live much of our lives on auto-pilot so this is about getting conscious and intentional about feeling better, both inside and out.
Of course, I recommend you take a Moment to awaken your senses, but you can also become present and aware simply by focusing on your breath. Then, there are several different avenues to explore:
- Somatic therapy with a licensed practitioner
- Energy work like acupuncture, reiki, or Tai Chi
- Fitness programs like The Class
I became a believer when I stopped clenching my teeth at night and my chronic neck pain went away. True story.
Who is my favorite Class instructor?
I honestly love all of them, but Natalie Kuhn is tops in my book. She’s love and light personified. I’ve never been so motivated or excited to squat for three minutes straight. I leave feeling lighter and with a huge smile. Every time.
Do I still run?
Not as often, but I did work through this blog while running and listening to Beyonce’s “Break my Soul” on repeat. Felt very fitting.
For all my virtual Class friends that I've never met but would most definitely hug in person, please use TheClass20 to take 20% off your purchase of Moment Mints on MotherBar. Click here to buy. Thanks for your support!