Posts under tag: Mindfulness

How Meditation, Breathing, and The Chorus Method Works: A Deeper Dive

Written by Ali Abramovitz 

Meditation

Not only can meditation make us feel better, but with consistency it can literally strengthen our brains. Yep, that’s right, we can actually rewire the neural circuits and strengthen physical connections in our brains. 

So, when you are meditating and feel control over your emotions, have an uplifted mood or positive outlook, you are actually training your brain how to do this in real life.

Numerous studies have found that meditation affects brain activity in some pretty awesome ways, including:

  • Reduced perception of pain (1)
  • Brain waves associated with feelings of calm become more pronounced (2)
  • Improved attention and focus (3)

Scientists have concluded that meditation leads to these positive changes by improving how the cerebral networks in our brain function. (4)(5)

Breath

But Chorus isn’t just traditional meditation. The Chorus Method incorporates controlled breathing, which assists in the regulation of our nervous systems.

Quick refresh: the autonomic nervous system is the part of our body that controls functions like heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pulmonary response and others. The autonomic nervous system is made up of two parts. First, the sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight system, and second, the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest system. 

A common problem in modern life is that we are in a constant state of partial stress. That low buzzing of anxiety or subtle feeling of being on edge throughout our days, causing us to be irritable or impatient, struggle to focus, or have trouble sleeping isn’t just bad for our mental well being, it’s bad for our physical health as well. (6)

Good news, breathing can help! 

By using controlled breathing, like we do in Chorus, we stimulate the vagus nerve and actively control our autonomic nervous system. 

By breathing quickly and in a controlled manner, we intentionally turn on our sympathetic nervous system. This trains our minds to consciously access the nervous system, so we can control it. We turn up the sympathetic nervous system SO THAT we can turn it down and spend the rest of our days in a relaxed state of actual calm and no longer suffer from the chronic partial stress described above. 

On the flip side, by breathing slowly and in a controlled matter, we intentionally turn on our parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces blood pressure, relaxes our body, and calms our minds.

The Chorus Method

So…how does all this factor into Chorus?

The Chorus Method combines traditional meditation and controlled breathing, with music and personal guidance to make it easier and more enjoyable to improve the health of our minds and bodies.

We do this by starting off with concrete and tangible objects to focus on (breath, beat, teacher’s voice, tingles ✨) so that when we move into the traditional meditation on the back half of class, our mind is actually able to enter a calm state vs. wrestling to get quiet. You know the feeling when trying to FORCE yourself into a meditative state …yeah, we want to avoid that! 😉

You can think of the rhythmic “belly, chest, release” breathing as the “warm up” for the mind strengthening. Just like a physical workout, the warm up loosens the body up and gets the blood flowing so when you do the exercises they are more effective.

In this first part of class we harness the power of our breath, together with the music, to create space in our minds and bodies SO THAT we can effortlessly sink into that calm state we all love, and effectively strengthen our minds, by the end of class. 

Oxygen is the energy source for every metabolic process in our body and is essential to brain function. As we practice controlled breathing, we literally move oxygen through our bodies in ways that help on the molecular level to increase energy and brain capacity. Through this physical reaction, paired with mental focus, we create space in the mind so we can do the work of strengthening those “mind muscles.”

By adding Chorus to your routine on a frequent and consistent basis (we recommend at least 2 classes per week) you will feel tangible benefits outside of class like better sleep, more control over your emotions, enhanced connections with loved ones, and with time, greater overall fulfillment in your life.
Now…let’s do it!

Footnotes:

  1. “Cortical thickness and pain sensitivity in zen meditators”, 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20141301
  2. “Brain waves and meditation”, Science Daily, 2010: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100319210631.htm “Increased Theta and Alpha EEG Activity During Nondirective Meditation”, 2009, https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/acm.2009.0113
  3. “Mindful breath awareness meditation facilitates efficiency gains in brain networks: A steady-state visually evoked potentials study.”, 2018: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30209327
  4. “The effect of meditation on brain structure: cortical thickness mapping and diffusion tensor imaging”, 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3541490/
  5. Check out our  blog post “How Meditation Actually Benefits the Brain” for more on the physical changes in the brain. 
  6. Premier Health: “Beware High Levels of Cortisol, the Stress Hormone”, 2017, https://www.premierhealth.com/your-health/articles/women-wisdom-wellness-/beware-high-levels-of-cortisol-the-stress-hormone#:~:text=Cortisol%20narrows%20the%20arteries%2C%20while,may%20constantly%20pump%20out%20cortisol.

The Chorus Method

So…how does Chorus work?

The Chorus Method makes it easier to calm the mind by starting off with concrete and tangible objects of focus (breath, beat, teacher’s voice, tingles ✨) so that when we move into the traditional meditation on the back half of class, our mind is actually able to enter a calm state vs. wrestling to get quiet. You know the feeling when trying to FORCE yourself into a meditative state …yeah, we want to avoid that! 😉

You can think of the rhythmic “belly, chest, release” breathing as the “warm up” for the mind strengthening. Just like a physical workout, the warm up loosens the body up and gets the blood flowing so when you do the exercises they are more effective.

Once we’ve created space in the mind by using the power of the breath coupled with the music, we can effortlessly sink into that calm state we all love, and effectively strengthen our mind, by the end of class. 

As we breathe, we are literally moving oxygen around in ways that help our physical bodies on the molecular level, and carve out the space in the mind so we can do the work of strengthening those “mind muscles.” 

By adding Chorus to your routine on a frequent and consistent basis (we recommend at least 2 classes per week) you will feel tangible benefits outside of class like  improved mental clarity, mood, focus, and sleep, and with  time greater overall fulfillment in your life.

Now…let’s do it!

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How to Rewire Your Brain For Gratitude

What three things are you grateful for in this moment right now? Can you write them down? On your phone, in a notebook, in an email to yourself – see if the feeling of gratitude intensifies when you right these things down.

Gratitude is an incredibly powerful mindfulness tool. It accomplishes so many things in a short amount of time. It rewires our pattern of thought to notice all the things that are going right in our lives, when we can often feel trapped in a story of negativity. It helps us call to mind things that bring us joy, adjusting our mood and outlook. It shifts our perspective and suddenly we can feel more optimistic about our present circumstances. And it’s totally free, can be done without a wi-fi connection, and takes mere seconds.

Try this quick journaling prompt throughout your day. Any time you feel stress or anxiety bubbling up, see if you can identify 3 things you feel grateful for. They can be seemingly small in nature, every little feeling of gratitude matters! If you have the time, see if you can jot those down quickly as well and amplify their effects.

We are so grateful for all of you and we can’t wait to see you in class!

An Easy Tip for Some Stress Relief

Feeling stressed? Write it down!

One way to combat that feeling of overwhelm and stress that sometimes creeps up on us Monday mornings? WRITE IT DOWN! Our thoughts can feel much more intense when they are running around unchecked in our heads. So instead of kicking off your week in a state of reaction, try to start it in a state of intention.

Take a minute this morning to get intentional about your day. Write down some of those thoughts and feelings that may be jostling around inside of you. See how it feels to read them back on paper. Do they feel as heavy? Are you able to create some distance between yourself and those thoughts and feelings?

Now take a moment to write down how you want this day to feel. Get clear about your intentions for your time. Write down what you’re going to do today and the feeling and attitude with which you would like to do it.

Taking a moment to pause, get clear, and write down how we want our days to feel helps us breathe intention into each moment. We no longer feel trapped in a reactionary cycle of our arising thoughts. We can participate in our lives with clarity and presence.

Maintain that mental clarity by joining us at one of our classes in SF!

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