In the past 15 months I’ve discovered mindfulness and it’s helped me focus more on well-being. With that objective in mind, I’ve explored apps, YouTube channels and websites, which offer techniques to relax and feel better. I’ve picked my top four: Calm, DOYOUYOGA, Yoga with Adriene, and Fitbit.
Calm: “Take a deep breath”, Calm is a meditation app available on Android and iOS. They propose guided, slightly guided and unguided sessions.
Tamara Levitt writes, records and produces meditation sessions and programs for Calm.
I particularly like the guided sessions, because it’s a mix of meditation, including breathing and body scan exercises, as well as the description of fundamental psychological concept. The guided sessions are grouped in categories such as Sleep, Calming Anxiety, Happiness, Gratitude, Self-Esteem. For some categories, they’ve got mini 7 to 21 day programs. For other topics, like for sleep, they’ve got a fully developed program of guided meditations, music, sleep stories, body relaxing exercises. They also offer daily sessions treating a new topic everyday.
- They’ve got breathing bubbles where you “just” breathe; return to the present sessions where a bell brings you back from your thoughts into the present moment.
- I also like the fact that you can couple a meditation session with a different background sound, like the sea, birds, the wind in the countryside, cracking fire, pure silence.
- In your profile section, you can track your session history and frequency, total time spent meditating, and total number of sessions. So you track your progress.
- I really appreciate the variety of topics and “tools” this app offers to relax. Also, the sessions are short enough to fit in most busy days. I pay a yearly fee of £44.99 and I think it’s worth it.
DOYOUYOGA: is an Android and iOS app, which offers yoga and fitness programs.
So far, I’ve really only used the app for the “30 Days of Yoga Challenge” with Jess Rose. I’ve found that it was a good way to start progressively with yoga. It’s a 30-session programme. Each session lasts about 10-12 minutes. The sessions work on pretty much every part of the body including the core, posture, balance, seated flexibility, lower back, and shoulders. The videos for this particular programme are also available on YouTube.
The program really got me hooked to yoga. The short sessions helped me maintain a daily practice. And I saw some quick results in terms of body flexibility. Also yoga improved my body posture, which translated in increased self-confidence. Overall yoga had a massively positive impact on my life and more specifically it helped me gain confidence for my job interviews earlier this year.
“Welcome all levels, all bodies, all genders, all souls! Find a practice that suits your mood or start a journey toward healing. Reconnect. Do your best, be authentic and FIND WHAT FEELS GOOD.”
Adriene Mishler is an actress and a yoga teacher from Austin, in Texas. I like that Adriene doesn’t take herself too seriously so the classes are fun and adapted to all levels. She keeps reminding yogis to listen to one’s body sensations. It’s not a competition. It’s about finding “what feels good”.
After I started practicing yoga with DOYOUYOGA, I then moved to YogawithAdriene. The sessions are longer, between 15 to 45 minutes but I still try to practice daily. If I don’t have time to fit a 45-minute session in my morning routine, I cut the session in half.
There’s a more comprehensive list of classes on the paid site available on Android, iOS and online. It’s $9.99 a month. But so far I’ve been practicing with the free videos from the YouTube channel and it’s been good enough.
There’s a wide selection of individual classes and 30-day programmes. The 30-day programmes are good to keep you committed to a daily practice. The videos alternate between very active work-out sessions, to calm and relaxing timeout for the mind.
Fitbit: it is the Android and iOS app, which manages the stats from your Fitbit device (of course, you need to have a Fitbit to use the app…). The app helps track your activity, exercise, sleep pattern, water intake, and more.
I use the app almost everyday. I use it especially for tracking my sleep pattern. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I suffer from insomnia. I wake up in the middle of the night and I don’t manage to fall back to sleep. Or so I thought. Wearing my Fitbit Alta HR at night has helped me understand that the issue is not always that I don’t sleep. The issue is also that my sleep quality is poor with a very small share of deep sleep and a large share of light sleep. I realised that I need at least 20% of deep sleep to feel rested. Below that rate I feel tired most of the day.
Of course, I know that the Fitbit sleep tracker is not 100% accurate because it’s partly based on estimates using a combination of my movement and heart-rate patterns when I’m asleep. Also, it’s not solving my issue. But at least I understand my sleep pattern a bit better and I try to make some changes to my habits. For example, I’ve set up a target time to go to bed and receive a friendly wrist vibration from my device at 10 pm to tell me to start getting ready to go to sleep.
Another functionality that I like is the step counter. It’s really good because it pushes me in reaching the daily target I’ve set myself. Also I can keep track of how well I’m doing, which feels quite satisfying and rewarding.
Insomnia cannot be solved by magic but anything that can help relax is good to try.What I like is to turn this app on in the background whilst I prepare to go to bed. It helps me unwind before sleeping.
Another good feature is that the app doesn’t let you use other apps on your phone. So it forces you to disconnect from all social media and news consumption before bedtime.
Also, I find it fun to be able to create my own sounds by mixing several sounds from the menu. For example I’ve mixed ‘city ambiance’, ‘afternoon’, ‘wind in the trees’ and ‘wind chimes’ and it’s created a sound I find really relaxing.