It’s no news that life has ramped back up—offices are reopening, we’re attending events, and we’re booking getaways once more. It’s an exciting time to get back into the world, but amidst re-emergence, the question still remains: what will be different, if anything, post-pandemic? It’s an inquiry better answered retrospectively, but one thing is for certain: every person will emerge differently. “During the pandemic, many of us were forced to examine our mental health, perhaps for the first time, and seek solutions to support ourselves and others,” says Manoj Dias, a meditation instructor, author, and co-founder of the new Los Angeles-based breathwork Studio, Open. “Together, breathwork and meditation become part of our toolkit for responding to life’s challenges and being fully present to savor the good times. As we connect deeper to ourselves through these practices, we organically feel a deeper connection to all of life, to others, and the world around us,” Dias explains. To wit, taking time to slow down, find calm, and turn inward through daily rituals like meditation and breathwork feels more paramount than ever. Here, Dias sits down with Vogue to share some of his essential tips for both practices.
“Daily meditations can drastically change the grey matter in our brains and help improve our memory, decision making, and emotional regulation,” explains Dias. “You already have everything you need to calm your mind and connect to your body. You can lay down, stand up or even meditate walking,” explains Dias. “I like to sit for practice—preferably on a cushion or chair, in a clean, quiet area. If you’re new to the practice, begin with 5 minutes every day and build yourself up for longer practices.” Dias himself sits in front of a little altar, “This helps make my practice feel like a ritual and reminds me of the people in my life. You can create your own altar and put anything on there that will help make you feel connected and present.” Some of his items include photos of his family, flowers, a cup of water, and a Buddha statue.
Breathwork need not be intimidating. On the contrary, it’s one of the most accessible ways to reconnect with ourselves. “Our breath is with us from the moment we enter this world to the moment we leave,” says Dias. “It’s also our most portable device. Imagine having something in the palm of our hand (or the tip of our nose) that can bring us into the present moment, time and time again. Our breath is always communicating with us—when we’re anxious, we can feel the heart pumping through the chest, when we’re around people that make us feel safe, the belly gently expands and contracts,” explains Dias. “If you can breathe, you can practice.” If you’re new to breathwork, Dias recommends finding somewhere to lay or sit comfortably and keeping a blanket nearby to get cozy for a breathwork session. “Your body may get hot or cold during a session—this is normal,” he says. “It’s useful to have a guide when you first begin—at Open, we have teachers that have dedicated their lives to this practice and sharing it with others.”
Originally published on Vogue.com