By now you’ve probably heard that meditation can reduce stress, support mental health, and even improve your physical performance in the gym. It’s a completely free way to recenter and refocus your mind. For all of its benefits, though, meditation gets a bad rep. Mindfulness takes a lot of work and, with our busy lives and racing minds, it’s not always easy to zen out. Before you resign yourself to a life of zero chill, though, try Aaptiv’s Go Deeper With Your Meditation program, live in-app now.
This 21-day meditation program—led by Aaptiv trainers Jade Alexis, Nicole Sciacca, Ceasar Barajas, and Jess Ray designed to help you learn how to meditate, practice stillness, and calm your mind.
Each week one of our four inspiring trainers will guide you through a different daily meditation, as well as a weekly sleep meditation to be done every night for seven nights. By dedicating yourself to this daily meditation practice, you’ll connect to your breath, intention, and greater life purpose; plus, you’ll benefit from reduced stress, a better mood, and improved sleep.
The program also introduces various meditation techniques throughout to help draw you into the practice and to help you focus. “I’ve found that many people find it hard to meditate for reasons like they can’t sit still, they get distracted, or they just don’t want to do it,” Alexis explains.
“With different meditation styles and techniques, you’re mind is more focused because you’re forced to focus on one thing.”
The idea is that if you’re fully performing breathwork or really honing in on your mantra, your mind simply can’t be anywhere else. There are a number of techniques introduced throughout the program.
Here, Alexis breaks down some of the most common ones you’ll encounter. Note: This meditation program is based on yoga principles.
There are several meditations that focus on mantras. “A mantra is just a short, positive statement or affirmation that helps keep you focused by giving you something specific to repeatedly think about,” Alexis says.
Meditation relies heavily on breathing techniques. Ujayi, Alexis explains, is a method of breathing. “Ujayi is a type of breathing that is done only through the nose with the lips sealed,” she says.
“The idea is to gradually extend the set of breaths. So in the beginning, your inhale might be two counts, but by the end of the program you might be able to inhale and exhale for five counts.”
Nidra is simply another way of saying lying meditation. “With Nidra, you’re lying down and the body is at rest, but the mind is awake,” she says.
“You lie completely still and your mind travels through this journey. You might fall asleep but your subconscious is still absorbing the meditation and so you can still gain the benefits from the meditation.”
Candle gazing is a fun approach to improving focus. “Candle gazing is relaxing and calming,” Alexis explains. “You light a candle and you gaze directly at the flame. When you close your eyes you still sort of see the flame. It’s a tangible routine that provides a focal point.”
She recommends an unscented tall dinner-table type of candle, but you can also use any unscented candle you have around. Because of the relaxing nature of candle gazing, Alexis also recommends performing these meditations before bed.
Lion’s breath is a highly relaxing breathing activity. “You take a really deep inhale through your nose and you exhale out of your mouth. As you do that you let your tongue come out of your mouth so that your jaw is completely relaxed,” Alexis says.
“We hold a lot of stress and tension in our jaw so you just feel looser and less tense.”
Try Aaptiv’s Go Deeper With Meditation program today!
Who should try the program?
While the program is ideal for beginners, it’s for everyone. “These 21 days of meditation are great for anyone who wants to learn more about meditation in the yoga world or those who already have a practice but want to follow a more guided structure for a few weeks,” Alexis says. “You can always learn something new or different.”
What if I can’t get into it?
Meditation is notoriously frustrating if you approach it with an impatient mind. Alexis recommends comparing it to fitness.
“When you start exercising, you hate doing it. You don’t want to do it because you’re not going to get that immediate benefit,” she says. “If you’ve never run one mile before, you’re going to struggle the first time you try. You’re going to have to stop and catch your breath a lot and you’re not going to want to come back. But if you do come back and you do try for 21 days, soon that one mile is going to be easy. You have to trust the process of meditation and you have to patient with it.”
As you work through the program you may find that your mind will wander—and that’s OK! “Don’t assume that it’s crazy or there aren’t any benefits because you lost focus,” Alexis says.
“It’s OK to have outside thoughts while you’re doing meditation—it’s inevitable. But when those thoughts come up, it’s important to try to let them go as quickly as possible. Get back to focusing on your mantra or your candle or your breathing.”
Meditation doesn’t have to feel defeating. Stay patient as you follow along with Aaptiv’s Intro to Meditation to recenter and refocus your mind.
Want to try “Go Deeper With Your Meditation” but not an Aaptiv member yet? Sign up here!