“Having strength to support flexibility is always my main focus,” says Rika Henry, who contributed to the creation of Yoga Strong. In the class, a proprietary sandbag is used to work against gravity to increase strength—and then with it to increase regeneration. For example, you’ll do a Windmill using the sandbag as a “weight” held overhead, then transition into Triangle Pose, resting the bag on your front foot to help you ground deeper into it.
Just like getting a hug, using a weighted blanket (like this one) can trigger what’s called deep pressure stimulation, essentially sustained pressure on the body that could theoretically release feel-good hormones like oxytocin and serotonin, according to Matt Delaney, director of programming and innovation. “If you're increasing serotonin levels it could stimulate production of melatonin,” he adds, noting that more evidence is needed to fully back this idea. All those neurotransmitters can have a cascading effect that results in reduced stress and anxiety and increased feelings of calm and comfort.
“Many times we don’t know we are still bracing or holding onto physical tension from the day,” says HeadStrong creator Michael Gervais. “By simply letting go into the force of gravity, you can enjoy this invisible pull and release unconscious resistance.”
Try this technique from Gervais’s Release Into Gravity HeadStrong meditation on Equinox+ when you get in bed tonight:
1. Take a moment to consider all of the ways you might resist against gravity during the day (think: sitting, standing, walking, lifting or lowering objects, taking the stairs). For now, all of that is done and you can simply let go.
2. Bring your attention to your breath: Inhale for four, hold for seven, then exhale for eight. Repeat a few more times.
3. Go back to your normal breathing, feeling your body to get heavier with each exhale and allowing gravity to embrace you.
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