Take Notes: How 7 Philly Yoga Pros Smash Stress

I don’t know about you, but it’s incredibly likely that I will still be checking my e-mail at 9 p.m. tonight. And, let’s be honest, probably taking a peek at my Slack work channel, just to make sure nothing is going on, too. Needless to say, this feeling of worry interferes with me really getting to my place of after-work, stress-free calm while watching Chef’s Table and drinking red wine.

When you’re constantly busy and feel like you’re working 24/7 — which so many of us do nowadays — it can be hard to turn off (both mentally, and to literally shut down your phone and laptop) and de-stress. (As a baby step, you can try  turning off your phone’s vibration so you’ll stop compulsively checking it, or start mandating no-screen time before bed.)

With addict-like technology and work habits running rampant, it comes as no surprise that, in a 2015 study by the American Psychological Association, 75 percent of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress, and nearly half reported that their stress had increased in the past year. Then there’s the whole competing for “most busy” prize that happens at work, which just adds to stress.

So the question: How the heck can we de-stress?

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Bookmark This: The Philly Fitness Lover’s Ultimate Spring Bucket List

Despite our recent complete immersion in snow and ice with Stella, or maybe because of it, we are now excited about the start of spring more than ever. There are a slew of new healthy eateries popping up around the city, and we can’t wait to go explore trails, try out new spring races, and generally be outside without our fingers feeling like they are about to freeze off. To expand on this excitement, we chatted with 17 Philly fitness pros to find out what’s on their spring fitness bucket lists once the city thaws out. Soak up some inspiration for your own must-do list below.

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The Skeptical Person’s Guide to Kick-Starting a Meditation Practice

We feel you: It can be hard to feel like you have room for meditation in your life — another thing to do?! — when you’re just so busy with life as it is. That’s why we reached out to Daphne Lyon, a meditation teacher and 500-hour registered yoga teacher at Amrita Yoga and Wellness who also surfs and teaches paddleboard yoga with Aqua Vida SUP. In case you couldn’t tell, she’s a busy gal who can relate to the daily grind.

“You have probably meditated before when you were on a run, knitting, painting or anytime you felt in the zone, completely focused, present, and in the moment,” Lyon says. “The practice of meditation is just that, but more controlled and with intention. We set the intention that we want to bring our awareness to in the present moment by watching the breath.”

We caught up with her for a Q&A about how to jumpstart your own meditation practice. (For starters, you can try her 3-minute guided meditation, because you KNOW you have three minutes!).Who knows? It could just be life-changing. As she says, “I feel so grateful for the ability to share this powerful practice with the community because the results are always amazing, no matter how big or small, and the practice truly transforms your life.”

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Meet the Delco Runner Who’s Been Run-Streaking for 9 Years Straight

Jon Wallin has run at least one mile every day since 2008.

Jon Wallin has run at least one mile every day since 2008.

You know how once February hits, it can get hard to keep up with your New Year’s resolutions? Well, here’s some motivation to stick with yours: Local runner Jon Wallin hasn’t quit his New Year’s resolution since 2008. The 37-year-old runner has been running every single day since January 2nd, 2008. Naturally, on some days over the past near-decade it was almost impossible to get his run in — but he still ran. Yep: Every. Single. Day.

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5 Ways to Get Fit in Philly Without Going to the Gym

You’ll have so much fun doing these six activities around Philly — from rock climbing to axe throwing (yes, axe throwing) — that you’ll forget you’re even getting a workout. (Don’t worry: Your muscles will make it clear that you did, in fact, get a workout later.) Bonus points: You won’t be forced to step foot inside a boring ol’ gym for any of them.

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How to Stick to Early-Morning Workouts (For Real!)

Be Well Philly Underground with November Project | Photo by Susan Nam

Be Well Philly Underground with November Project | Photo by Susan Nam

Philly’s November Project tribe is a grassroots workout group — one of dozens of other free November Project workout groups in cities around the world (yup, the world … there’s NP Iceland, London, and Hong Kong) — that meets almost exclusively in the early morning hours. Philly’s group works out at the Art Museum steps at 6:25 a.m. on Wednesday mornings, in locations around the city at 6:25 a.m. on Friday mornings, plus the occasional pop-up workout or run. (Guys, it’s free, if you haven’t heard, so #justshowup — that’s their motto. That is, if you can first #justwakeup.)

Many of us want to be committed to early-morning workouts (after all, according to this Philly trainer, it’s the best time to exercise) but have trouble actually getting our butts out the door in neon spandex to bounce up and down the Rocky Steps before sunrise. To find out the secret to sticking to those good morning-workout intentions, we caught up with seven dedicated November Project early-risers, including the group’s two fearless (or insane) co-leaders, to find out what motivates them to get out the door when their alarms go off. Check out the (sometimes weird, sometimes adorable — see: puppy wake-up call) secrets to how they do it below.

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The 19-Year-Old CHOP Patient-Turned-Playwright Whose Poetry Will Make You Cry 

Elizabeth Kennedy

Elizabeth Kennedy

Elizabeth Kennedy, 19, is a poet and playwright who occasionally rocks purple hair. “I dyed it purple after I had pneumonia,” she says. “I was in the hospital and feeling so out of control of my life. My dad went out and bought me the hair dye so I could feel in control of something.”

She had to dye it back to her natural brunette before she began her most recent round of proton radiation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, because the radiation irritates her scalp. Elizabeth was diagnosed with a tumor on her brain stem when she was only seven years old. She’s had two brain surgeries, proton radiation, and three rounds of chemotherapy. She was stable for eight years before heading back to CHOP this fall.

Despite being in and out of hospitals since she was seven, she focuses all of her creative energy into a positive place: her writing. She writes poems constantly, and most recently wrote a one-act play, “The Bureaucracy of Existentialism,” which will be performed at the Shawnee Playhouse this January as part of the Shawnee Original Playwright Series Contest. Read more »

This Is City Hall’s Best Kept Secret

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown leading her Noonwalk group

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown leading her Noonwalk group | Photograph by Gina Tomaine

The light step of sneakers on tile corridors echoes over people sitting in the sixth floor corridor at City Hall as they wait to report for jury duty.

“If you walk a little faster you’ll get your heart rate up,” Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown says to the group of women behind her as she hefts a ten-pound weight in the air.

Blondell Reynolds Brown is currently serving her fourth term on Philadelphia City Council. She’s the only woman to serve as an At-Large Philadelphia Councilmember since 2000, the only woman serving in City Council Leadership, and the Majority Whip.

Oh, and, she also pioneered and leads a free midday walking group at City Hall twice a week.

And your excuse for not working out was … ?  Read more »

Get Inspired: Kinzey Lynch Is Blind — But That Doesn’t Keep Him From Running Marathons

Lynch and Philly Achilles guide Charlie Tomlinson  on the Schuylkill River Trail / Photograph by Adam Jones

Lynch and Philly Achilles guide Charlie Tomlinson
on the Schuylkill River Trail / Photograph by Adam Jones

If you’d told me when I was a little kid that I’d be doing marathons, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was born with microphthalmia, which limits my vision to light, shadows and colors.

Getting around University City and Drexel is always an adventure. I have orientation and mobility instructors who teach me to maneuver through obstacles in the city. I have to be in tune with when Market Street is going, if it’s a red light or a green light, if there’s a food cart in the way. Read more »

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