Posts under tag: Meditation classes

Notes on Your Practice:
Pranayama, Part 2

Written by Kevin ODonnell

As many of you have experienced, at Chorus we use a specific three part breath. This breath can be traced back to the fourth limb of yoga called pranayama. Prana is the life force that is within the breath, it is the energy that allows creation and gives life to the universe, and yama means control or expansion. This practice is done through conscious breathing much like the breath we use in Chorus. So, where does this practice come from?

The practice of Pranayama can be found in texts that date back to 3,000 BCE. The first writings about prana are found in the Chandogya Upanishad, while the practice of pranayama is first found in the Brihadaranyaka and Maitrayaniya Upanishads, which outline this practice and the importance of including it in your sadhana (practice). In one of my favorite Upanishads, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, it describes the Self as a river and the breath as the streams of that river. These are some of the interesting concepts we discuss during my Story Time Tuesday and Wisdom Wednesday classes!

The idea that breathing could be used to achieve greater health and even immortality is a theme that is often repeated in subsequent yogic texts and teachings such as the Bhagavad Gita (chapter 4, verse 29). In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali also outlines the importance of Pranayama.  He describes it as one of the prerequisites of meditation along with asanas (poses), pratyahara (sensory control), and other codes of conduct called the yamas and niyamas. Patanjali notes a number of specific benefits of pranayama practice which include mental fitness and the ability to concentrate. Additionally, Patanjali shares that regular breathwork practice could lessen or dissolve the veil that covers our “inner illumination” (verse 2:52).

The reason this is so important, according to Hindu philosophy, is because breath does not just begin and support life, the breath is life.  It is much more than the movement of the lungs within animals and humans. Every movement in the universe is the Cosmic Breath, or vishwaprana. Everything that occurs within ourselves and the cosmos is the movement of prana. Now imagine how interesting life could be once we learn how to control this prana the way these practices train us to do!

There have been documented stories of beings who have been able to master the control of prana over time. For example, the Buddha was said to be able to only take 10 breaths per day while he was doing his tapasya (austere practices). In today’s world, we see people, like Wim Hoff, who have been able to overcome extreme weather and illness by using the breath as a tool. Through pranayama we are able to rewire our mind, our bodies, and our spirit to strengthen our abilities to live more fully. Swami Sivananda states “if you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical.”

Many of these traditional pranayama techniques are nasal breath practices whereas the more modern “breathwork” practices are done with an open mouth. These practices, like Chorus, allow more prana to enter the body and induce altered states of consciousness quicker than traditional techniques. This is almost a shortcut to different states of consciousness and can lead to extraordinary experiences and deep healing.  

Although these experiences can be beautiful they can also bring a lot of unexpected feelings to the surface, like different traumas or repressed emotions that we as practitioners have forgotten about. These shortcuts, unlike traditional techniques, can bring this right to the surface rather than easing you into it. This can be great for deep healing if you are prepared but if you are not prepared it can be something you weren’t expecting. It is important to understand the implications of these practices and ease into them with great respect. You should dip your toes in the water before you dive into the ocean.

As you can see, this breath that we use in Chorus has a long history and has deep importance within a yogic practice. Conscious breathing, or pranayama, is a practice that we should strive to master as it leads to deeper meditations and a longer more enjoyable life. It should also be handled with delicate care, respect and intention as these practices bring you deeper into your inner landscapes and some of which may have never been explored before. With proper guidance—like what you receive from our Chorus teachers—and a loving supportive space—like our amazing community—these practices can lead you to deep healing and a beautiful, unified state within yourself.

Notes on Your Practice:
Meditation, Part 1

Written by Miya Kishi Dunets

Just what is mediation? Is it something we do? A state we maybe, someday reach? 

To meditate is to train our minds, directing our attention to something—an object, a sound, a being, a concept—in a deliberate way. It is an act and a state that allows us to widen our perspectives to something larger than that of our separate, limited selves. Practices can be formal or informal, undertaken while seated or lying down in stillness, or perhaps while walking, eating, or doing any number of daily activities. 

The formal meditation techniques we encounter in our modern lives have ancient and sacred roots. Taking time to learn about and honor the cultures and philosophical systems from which our practices (whatever those practices may be) originate is a vital part of deepening our connection to and respecting these tools, ourselves, and our local and global communities.

Meditative practices are part of every religious and spiritual tradition—Shamanism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Yogism, Sikhism, Islam, Sufiism, Judaism, Kabballah, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and on—and the practices from those traditions branch out further, varying within religious or spiritual sects, by geography, by country and within local cultures. 

Often now we encounter secular, meaning non-religious, meditations that utilize traditional techniques and remove the religious context. For example, many are familiar with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This program consists of Buddhist and yogic practices without the inclusion of Buddhist or yogic philosophy and with emphasis on the evidence-based, neuroscientific impact of these techniques. Many other traditional meditation practices have also been secularized, adopted, and popularized. 

The process of secularization has made meditation accessible to more people because one doesn’t necessarily need to adhere to specific religious or spiritual beliefs in order to access a practice and its benefits. However, whether we regard meditation as sacred or a brain training exercise, it’s vital to make time to learn about the people, cultures, and systems from which the techniques we use have emerged. This ensures that we are honoring the wisdom shared with us. It also allows us to explore and appreciate the richness of different wisdom traditions, seeking to understand how a meditative technique works not just out in the wild but also within the ecosystem that brought it to fruition.

It can be helpful to categorize meditation techniques or styles as we try practices to see what resonates. For ease and simplicity (acknowledging that it is not necessarily easy or simple to attempt to organize meditative techniques, and that many, many frameworks could be employed), I’ll stick with a categorization provided by Western Buddhist teachers Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield: devotional practices, contemplation practices, and concentration practices.

Devotional practices are dedicated to some kind of divine presence or universal source energy and can include techniques such as focusing on a concept like love, prayer, visualization, chanting, and singing. In contemplation practices, we reflect on something like a passage of sacred text, a prayer, words, or a more abstract concept. When engaging with concentration practices, we focus our attention on an inner or outer experience (e.g. mindfulness of breath or body; repetition of sacred sound like a mantra; focus on an inner state like compassion; gazing at or visualization of a candle or other object; and even open awareness practices, during which we notice all aspects of our experience without latching on to or pushing away any specific facet of that experience), perhaps eventually feeling a sense of merging with the object of focus. 

You might begin to notice that there is a great deal of overlap in these categories. Is the chanting of mantras and bhajans performed by Bhakti yogis a concentration practice or a devotional one? It’s both, and a contemplation practice too. Could mindfulness of the body move between concentration and contemplation? Probably. Can reading and re-reading a Sufi poem feel like an expression of concentration, contemplation, and devotion? Yep. As you can see, meditative techniques contain multitudes. 

Wondering what you’re experiencing at Chorus? We primarily use secular concentration and sometimes contemplation practices, mostly those of Buddhist and yogic origin. Teachers provide some kind of anchor or anchors for your awareness, so that you can train your mind to stay in the present moment. More time in the present means less time projecting, remembering, ruminating. More time in the present means more time experiencing the richness of life, its joys, its suffering, and everything in between with less judgement, here and now. 

Meditation can help us to find more ease, inner freedom, and connection but those benefits come with time, commitment, and effort. If we’re lucky enough to make these practices part of our lives, we can honor that privilege by cultivating respect for the practices themselves and the people and cultures that have shared them with us.

Below are some suggested resources that you might find useful as you delve into meditative practice (note: the below are focused on Buddhist and secular mindfulness and compassion, since those are the techniques most often used within a Chorus practice):

Mindfulness in Plain English (Bhante Gunaratana)

The Miracle of Mindfulness (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach)

How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life (His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation through Anger (Lama Rod Owens)

Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation (Rev. angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, Jasmine Syedullah Ph.D.)

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

Teacher Series: Ellie

Tell us about your work helping people avoid burnout – why is this such an important topic right now?

I’m really passion about helping people avoid burnout because, actually according to a Marketing Study done last year, 3/4 women report burnout in their lives. That’s crazy. I think it involves just the pace of life we have right now, even as we’re sheltering in place or however things are looking for different people in different parts of the world.

And so, as someone who has gone through that experience– of pushing myself, pushing myself, going way too hard and then kind of feeling like ‘what’s the point of all this hard work if I feel terrible in the process of it?’ I’ve had that experience, and so I really care about showing people tools and resources and even breaking up some patterns of thought that aren’t working for them so that they can feel more worthy, more capable, happier right now when they’re going after the things that they want in life. Or even just trying to keep the plates spinning, and have some fulfillment even in those moments of challenge.

How has your writing and coaching helped inform your meditation practice and teaching?

So, my writing and coaching has helped inform my practice probably mostly through the use of metaphor. Our brains are really visual for the most part, so if I use metaphor like something involving swimming or being in the forest, or something like that, it helps the person who’s meditating have this really strong visual in their head. And then since throughout class we’ve been creating meaning and attributing it to that metaphor, similar to what I do in coaching, it will hopefully create some sort of ‘ah-ha’ moment for them.

Why is mindfulness important to you personally?

Well, mindfulness is the most important thing to me personally in my life. Life is only happening in this moment, and the more often I can really be present– even when I’m turning a handle on a door, even when I’m washing the dishes, even when I’m going just for a walk, that’s life! Mindfulness has helped me differentiate between what’s really going on in life vs. the story I’m putting on top of it vs. the worries in my head that are fundamentally not real, at all. I love getting to share that with other people.

Mindfulness has also helped me get free from anxious feelings and general stress. For a long time I was the victim of those things, I was like ‘The world is just stressful… this is just the way it is’ and then through mindfulness I was able to see the separation between what’s going on in the world and my thoughts about it. And I have control over my thoughts about it. And that starts for me– that’s rooted in just being aware and present here. Getting to see what is really right here in front of me, and then accepting and embracing it as it is.

What do you love about Chorus and the Chorus Method?

So the first time I took a Chorus class, I remember Ali wanted me to come check it out and see what the class is like, and I was like ‘Oh, I’ve meditated for forever, I’m sure it’ll be fine.. It will be a meditation class’ but when I went to my first Chorus class, I was stunned. I was– as I tell students who come to my class and people in the community– it was like the brain exploding emoji. I loved it so much. I felt this sense of connection with myself that I didn’t know I was missing and that I sorely needed. Even now, I take Chorus for this sense of connection I feel in myself, this sense of like inner integrity and wholeness and I also take classes for creativity. Chorus helps me be more creative. The mindfulness practices, the breathing, the music even, the teacher’s guidance, they help me create more and be more creative from that place of wholeness and unity.

So I love the combination of the meditation I’ve known for a long time– as some of you know I started meditating when I was 14, so I’ve been really used to the like cut-and-dry of ‘let go of your thoughts, stare at a wall’ stuff like that, and mixing that with this sense of fun and enjoyment, which is what I try to bring into my classes because I really enjoy this method.

How would you describe your teaching style?

My teaching style is a combination of loving, and calming, and stress-free judgement-free zone with the sense of fun and play, and I like to pick music that makes me feel happy, and kinda like you want to dance to it. Honestly, sometimes when I take Chorus classes, I will move my body to the music in a way that makes me feel really good. So, it’s a combination of the two– calmness and the sense of being held, with this feeling of ‘Oh, this is fun to do. I get to enjoy my practice and my life.’

Watch the video of Ellie’s interview below:

Follow along with Ellie:

Instagram, Teaching Schedule

Now…let’s see what she’s talking about!

See you in class.

How Meditation, Breathing Exercises, and The Chorus Method Work for Stress Relief, Nervous System Health, and a Life of Happiness

Written by Ali Abramovitz 


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)(3)
  • Improved attention and focus (4)

Scientists have concluded that meditation leads to these positive changes by improving how the cerebral networks in our brain function (5)(6).


But Chorus isn’t just traditional meditation. The Chorus Method incorporates breathing exercises, 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 (7).

Good news, breathing exercises can help! 

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

Here’s how the breathing exercises for stress really work:

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 deep 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, using both rhythmic breathing to the beat of music, as well as deep breathing.

These breathing exercises for stress, together with the music, 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
  • Clearer thinking
  • More control over your emotions
  • Enhanced connections with loved ones
  • And with time, greater overall fulfillment in your life.

Now…let’s do it!


  1. (1) “Cortical thickness and pain sensitivity in zen meditators”, 2010,
  2. (2) “Brain waves and meditation”, Science Daily, 2010:
  3. (3) “Increased Theta and Alpha EEG Activity During Nondirective Meditation”, 2009,
  4. (4) “Mindful breath awareness meditation facilitates efficiency gains in brain networks: A steady-state visually evoked potentials study.”, 2018:
  5. (5) “The effect of meditation on brain structure: cortical thickness mapping and diffusion tensor imaging”, 2013,
  6. (6) Check out our  blog post “How Meditation Actually Benefits the Brain” for more on the physical changes in the brain. 
  7. (7) Premier Health: “Beware High Levels of Cortisol, the Stress Hormone”, 2017,

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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Making Mindfulness Practices Part of Your Self-Care

At Chorus, we don’t just practice mindfulness because it feels good, we do it because it is good for our actual health; the health of our bodies, our mental health, and our relationships. 

We all know we need to exercise our bodies (shout out to our favorite quarantine workout classes!), but our culture is not as attentive to exercising our minds through mindfulness practices. As part of the mindfulness movement, we’re here to change that – Chorus is like a mind workout, and it takes practice! 

With practice, meditation can improve your physical health, cognitive abilities, happiness, and sense of connection! Check out our blog on How Meditation Actually Benefits the Brain and this article on 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation to learn more. 

Not convinced meditation is your thing? We get it, meditation can be hard – but it doesn’t have to be! It can both feel good and be good for you. We started Chorus to bring you a new way to meditate that feels great from your very first session. Our unique combination of active breathing techniques, meditation and music help you reconnect to your body and ease your mind.

We set our classes to the beat of energizing music while supportive teachers guide you towards greater clarity and peace of mind. We promise that you’ll be able to find the quiet space between your thoughts more easily than with traditional meditation practices you’re thinking of – this is meditation, kinda. 

Come see for yourself! Visit our schedule to book a meditation class!

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