Emilie started her journey at the YMCA as a volunteer, and eventually became a valued member of our staff team. Usually, she brings her wisdom on how to unwind to our yoga classes, but we figured everyone could do with a little peace of mind at a time like this. Here’s a simple exercise you can do at home to help you stay calm and protect your mental health.

Even under usual circumstances, I think it’s harder than ever to unplug. We’re constantly being harassed by our own technology; as never-ending notifications remind us of our never-ending to-do lists. Right now, those notifications mostly consist of updates that can feel scary and stressful.

If that sounds like you, I’ve got a simple solution that will bring your stress level way down. Imagine being able to genuinely switch off and feel at home in your body. Imagine getting a break from the constant flood of updates and relishing a mindful moment of peace and quiet.

Sounds amazing, right? Well, you have the power to make all of that a reality. Yoga is a great way to connect the mind and body. It can help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression (and it gives your eyeballs a break from all of those screens we stare at all day). It’s like an elixir for your mental health. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s an easy breathing exercise I like to do to help me disconnect:

1.Place your feet hip-distance apart, and root them into the ground.

2. Stand tall and broad across your chest, with the crown of your head reaching towards the ceiling.

3. Close your eyes and float one hand up to your heart, and the other to your lower belly.

4.Keeping your eyes closed, take 10 deep “belly breaths,” feeling your hands move as your ribcage expands and contracts.

5. Take in all the sounds, feelings, temperatures, and other sensations around you. Acknowledge these sensations as they come to pass in your mind, and then return your focus to your breath. Let go of any nagging thoughts about your body or what you think it should look like.

We wish you and your family safety and good health during what we know is a difficult time. Please take care of yourselves, follow the precautions outlined by public health authorities, and check in on The Bright Spot activities page for a variety of safe, at-home activities that will keep you physically fit and socially connected.