Angelenos are exercising their laid-back attitudes.
Angelenos are now actually paying to chill out with a new kind of group exercise class. Modern-day problems, like computer-related neck and back pain, mean that stress relief is becoming more and more of a necessity. But how do these classes compare to the traditional cardio or strengthening class, in terms of health benefits?
“Some small, but well done, studies have suggested that meditation can lower blood pressure,” says cardiologist Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, FACC, FAHA, FSCAI, FESC, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and editor-in-chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. “Even if the effects are modest, this would seem to be a safe and inexpensive approach—either for those with high blood pressure already or those trying to prevent it.” Here are some of our favorite group classes geared towards stress-reduction and relaxation, as opposed to burning calories:
Exhale Chill: If you’re not a west-sider, it may seem daunting to get over to Venice or Santa Monica during rush hour for this evening class, but you won’t regret it. This yin (restorative) yoga class is designed to balance, calm, and repair the body and mind. Propped up with blocks, bolsters, and blankets, your body will surrender to long stretches that target the shoulders, back, and hips.
$22 per class, Exhale Spa
Unplug Meditation: Mindfulness is something we hear often, and it also happens to be a big part of the art of meditation at this West LA studio. Meditation has been proven to reduce blood pressure, lower risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as improve sleep and overall happiness, but former fashion editor, Suze Yalof Schwartz, hit the nail right on the head when she decided to open up a studio where groups can meditate together with a variety of meditation styles to choose from. Classes range from the signature 45-minute Unplug class to Unplug Unique, where you focus on one designated object.
$20 per class, Unplug Meditation
TIMEOUT: There’s nothing like taking a little break from everyday life. Originally started as group classes (some were poolside at the Standard Hotel in Hollywood) but now available in private sessions only (lessons you can download are in the works), stress management specialist Michal Gregus’ unique exercise routine requires only a mat and pillow. Using a combination of breath work, visualization, muscle relaxation, and hypnosis, Gregus coaxes your body into a deep relaxation that can help relieve stress and tension from the mind and body.
Private sessions are $150
Sound Baths: Combining yin yoga poses with ancient eastern instruments (like planetary gongs and Tibetan singing bowls) for a class that requires minimal effort on the participant’s half and is often used therapeutically for stress relief and minor injuries like chronic neck and back pain, since it’s gentler and slower than a standard yoga class. The instruments are used to induce and enhance a state of meditation and include Tibetan metal bowls, planetary gongs and chakra-based crystals to soothe stretches and help students relax.
$20 per class, Black Dog Yoga
The Breathing Class:
You’ve probably heard the advice: “Just breathe, it will all be fine.” Psychologist Belisa Vranich, PsyD, a breath-work teacher, is redefining health treatment at its core with the inhale and the exhale. Breathing correctly has been shown to enhance performance, be it for an athlete or creative problem solving, and Vranich offers classes from basic breathing, to breathing for warriors (e.g. athletes), and even breathing for better eating. Vranich also has a studio in New York, so stressed out Manhattanites can learn to breathe correctly too.
$30 per class, The Breathing Class