Meditation and Yoga

In our little Webwide call I mentioned meditating and yoga-ing which seemed to spark some interest so here are some links.

Meditation

I tried meditation 3 years ago because I kept hearing about it and didn't know what it was. I'm a sceptical person but went into it neutral with no expectations. After my first session I felt relaxed so decided to complete a 1 week introduction to meditation and give it a fair try. I ended up really liking it so I've been meditating ever since.

What I do is "mindfulness" meditation (sometimes called Western meditation and it's the most common type you're likely to come across). It is usually not spiritual and just focuses on building your awareness of mind, body, and surroundings. Often you'll focus on your breath, using it as an anchor to return to if you get distracted by thoughts. The act of meditation is simply noticing when you get distracted by thought (and you will), gently letting it pass, and returning to the breath. That's really it. You're not trying to force yourself into not thinking or feeling things. It's about being present in the now, noticing what's happening, and getting curious. Maybe you're happy and relaxed, that's okay. Maybe you're sad and worked up, that's okay too. You'll notice what thoughts, emotions and sensations are going on, and learn to accept them as they are without getting swept away by them.

If you're curious too, download a few apps, play a few seconds on each to see which voice or format you like best, then perhaps start with a 7 day intro to meditation course (they all have one). Try not to expect anything magical, just see if you like it. Many people meditate in the morning to prepare for the day, I do it in the evening to wind down. You can see which works for you.

Recommendations:

  • ⭐️ Calm app and/or website (I like the app). I've done some of the courses but mostly I like "The Daily Calm" which is a different 10 minute session every day. I find it idea because it's always the same length and the same voice and the same format which really helped me build a routine — I put it on before bed and find I often sleep better and dream more. I don't think it's the most in depth meditation app but for me the consistency wins. I pay for it, and sometimes make use of the other features (the sleep masterclass is reeeally good). You can also choose to overlay some nature sounds on the voiceover (like rain or waves) which I find quite nice.
  • ⭐️ Insight Timer app and/or website. Nice community vibe, you can see people meditating around the world, leave comments and questions, etc. The app has thousands of free meditations from hundreds of teachers, you can really explore and try things until you figure out what works for you. They have paid extras including "The Daily Insight" which is clearly inspired by Calm but I like it too, you can actually choose between 5, 10, or 20 minutes each day which is neat and it's a different featured instructor each day which is better for variety, worse for consistency. There are ratings and categories to help sift through the content.
  • Headspace app. Similar again, paid, I don't like the voice but it's hugely popular so try it to see if you do.

Yoga

I've tried yoga a few times before but I guess it took a lockdown to make it stick. I like using apps at home to practice at my own pace without feeling self conscious. So far I've been doing yoga most days for three weeks, hopefully I keep it up! Recommendations:
  • ⭐️ Down Dog app. The design looks cheap so I initially dismissed it but the content is great. It's free during lockdown but I think I'll pay for it after. What I love is how customisable it is. You can chose workout duration, speed, difficulty, focus areas (neck for me), music, and even voiceover if you find one voice annoying. You can set it up just how you like. It generates a semi random sequence so you never do the same routine twice, and yet it's seamless with video and voiceover, one pose flowing into the next. 5 updogs from me.
  • Nike Training app. Free, but there are only 17 yoga workouts. They can be a little fast but there are a few of each difficulty level, and video with voiceover showing and explaining how to do every pose. Pretty good for free.
  • Yoga with Adriene. I've been recommended this but haven't tried it. If you want something more human than the apps, Adriene has lots of free videos and courses on YouTube that look quite good.

 
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Adam

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Such a wonderful write-up! Thank you Simon. I am trialling Calm and Down Dog, will feedback with progress!

 

blaq

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Thanks for sharing that... hey, I also discover this site .... on hackernews called Brain.fm they have cool stuff ... its paid but they also have free version...

 

Sharkie

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I tried Headspace eons ago, and just never fully clicked. Ive been meaning to try Calm since you mentioned it Sunday, and totally forgot the name!

Great write-up! Everyone definitely needs some calm and relaxation with the state of the world right now.

 

sfcgeorge

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@blaq thanks for reminding me about Brain.fm, I've just tried it. I like the idea because I know certain music can help me focus, but I found it pretty boring. Tried a few different channels but after 10 minutes they all kinda sounded like a CD you'd get free with a magazine, or royalty free hold music. I think I'm in a slightly bad mood today though so I'll give it another try on Monday with work. Would be great if I get into it, I could use more focus.

Thanks all. If trying yoga and meditation unless you do them back to back it might be too many habits to make stick all at once. So don't get disheartened, try to stick to just one if that's easier.

Do post feedback if you find accountability helps you stick to things, or ask questions if there's anything you're curious about :)

I've done half an hour of "Intermediate 1" on Down Dog for 3 days in a row now and oof. I expect I'll be back to beginner for a rest tomorrow. Feeling progress though. Started with 10 minutes beginner weeks ago and gradually worked up 5 minutes every few days.

 

Adam

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Some great easy going 'Office Yoga' by fellow web dev Zac Gordon here.

 

sfcgeorge

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Somehow managing to stick to half an hour of yoga per day most days, even worked up to intermediate (not well but I can make it to the end). Taking rest a day sometimes is important though, I made my hip sore doing too much but now I'm fine again.

 

Sharkie

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Almost forgot about this thread, congrats on making it to Intermediate @sfcgeorge, that's not easy whatsoever!!

I've been focusing on adding meditation to my schedule, and am loving Calm. I don't mind myself being more relaxed in daily life (my anxiety is very much HERE and PRESENT) but I really look forward to those 10 minutes a day I get to just breathe and meditate and let everything go.

 

sfcgeorge

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I've been focusing on adding meditation to my schedule, and am loving Calm. I don't mind myself being more relaxed in daily life (my anxiety is very much HERE and PRESENT) but I really look forward to those 10 minutes a day I get to just breathe and meditate and let everything go.

@Sharkie aww that is wonderful, I'm glad you're getting on with meditation and Calm. Yeah I think at first I found myself just enjoying the sessions and that was it (and that's enough really). But after a few months I definitely felt a bit calmer in general. I do still get anxious or stressed out about situations, I think it's more the baseline normal times I've noticed a difference. Like when talking to people or doing mundane tasks I feel more patient and chill. Or maybe I've just grown up a bit.

 
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