body, mind, meditation, health, fitness, exercise, Suze Yalof Schwartz, Unplug Meditation, headspace, WILLSPACE NYC, Equinox, Q Blog, mindfulness, brainwork

Should You Join a Brain Gym?

To round out your workout, consider an institution solely dedicated to strengthening your consciousness.

A strong body without a strong mind will only get you so far. But in a fast-paced world that prioritizes visible results—a toned body or a strong core—focusing on the physical is often easier. After all, it's nice to be able to see your return on investment.

To that end, a membership to a fitness institution is easily justified. But what about a place you could go to breathe, unwind, reset, de-stress, and leave better equipped to face your day? A place that promised to strengthen your mind? 

That’s just what Suze Yalof Schwartz, former Fashion Editor-at-Large and makeover guru for Glamour, asked herself. Recently, she traded a career focused on the external for one that revolved around feeling good, creating L.A. based meditation studio Unplug Meditation which opened on Tuesday.

After attending most of the meditation classes that the city of angels had to offer, Yalof Schwartz wondered how she could edit them down. “Most of the programs are 8 weeks long or 2.5 hour classes, and they’re expensive,” she says. What's more, the practices that promise to reset your mind—meditation, mindfulness, and brainwork—can sometimes seem lofty. “I wanted to create an affordable place where you can drop in and drop out for meditation,” explains Yalof Schwartz.

And she’s onto something. More and more research has shown that meditation isn’t just for monks. In fact, recent research from Johns Hopkins University found that just 30 minutes a day can sink anxiety and depression levels by 38 percent—an effect similar to that of antidepressants. Once mastered, the skill promises to help you sleep better, stress less, focus, and once and for all: calm down.

Be it self-guided, in a 15- 30- or 60-minute meditation class at your local Equinox (available in select cities), or at a full-on brain gym, we're all for taking that time however you can. Read on for three places that may just be worth your membership.

1

Unplug Meditation

Yalof Schwartz’s studio on Wilshire Boulevard is surrounded by a Zen garden and 14-foot waterfall. Inside, she’s recruited gurus like Steve Ross—a former monk and owner of Maha Yoga—to guide stay-at-home-moms and CEOs alike through mindfulness sessions that can finally fit into their busy days. A 30-minute class goes for $20 a pop; a monthly membership is $210. “My goal is to get as many people meditating as possible,” she says. “If you think you can’t, you can.”

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2

Headspace

Creators Andy Puddicombe and Richard Pierson brought mindfulness to people’s fingertips in 2010 with the release of Headspace—their app that has now topped the iTunes Health and Fitness charts, and grabbed the attention of gold medal-winning Olympians and celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow. The goal is simple: “Demystify” meditation. So sign up, sit back, relax, and be guided through an introduction to the practice. A 10-day plan of daily meditation sessions is free, but the $7.99 a month after that is worth every penny.

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3

Urban Breath

Urban Breath isn’t your average sit down and shut up meditation. Founded by Monica Aparicio and Rikard Skogberg—certified Biodynamic Breath Work practitioners—the NYC-based workshops you’ll find here are highly energetic, challenging even the strongest of doubters. The goal: Learn to breathe the right way in order to boost your energy, improve your sleep quality, and even your mood. You’ll use your entire body—pushing yourself like you would in a workout—to calm a busy mind through proper breathing. Expect much more than closed eyes and a quiet room: Classes involve a guided breath therapy, group process work, and even writing.

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Tags: Mind/Body