David Mendez

BCHD’s Mindful Yoga plans to curb stress, anger

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Beach Cities Health District’s Catherine Bustamante, Michael Lindsey, and Cristin Higa welcome residents to Mindful Yoga at the Manhattan Beach pier Monday evening. More than 200 people participated. Photo by Kevin Cody

by David Mendez

More than 200 people from across the Beach Cities met south of the Manhattan Beach Pier on Monday for Mindful Yoga, a mix of light yoga and mindful meditation at the end of the day, arranged by the Beach Cities Health District for its annual Free Fitness Series.

The Mindful Yoga program is intended to help Beach Cities residents melt away stress, which trends high in the area, according to the Gallup-Healthways Healthy Living Index.

“Looking through our data, there’s a high level of stress, anger and worrying here,” said BCHD CEO Tom Bakaly. “We’re looking for healthy ways for people to deal with stress.”

Stress and anger, he noted, can lead to people searching for relief in unhealthy ways, such as substance use and abuse in teens and adults, and bullying in younger age groups. Physical exercise is widely known to be an effective way of managing stress.

Mindfulness, however, is a way to develop a person’s attention to the world around them and instill a sense of calm.

“I’m trying to develop self-awareness…it’s truing up the attention,” said Greg Flaxman, a mindfulness and relaxation class leader and BCHD Care Manager. “It’s one way of paying attention to the moment in a nonjudgmental way, and something people can practice in their everyday life.”

Particularly in relation to yoga, Flaxman may lead a guided body scan, where participants pay close attention to how their body is feeling, part-by-part. That, he said, can help in dealing with pain, fatigue and some chronic health issues.

“I notice it when I’m having different reactions to the same things — say, traffic,” Bakaly suggested.

There have been times, he said, when in similar situations, he’s either laid on the car horn in frustration or calmly done nothing.

“If I’m having different reactions to the same thing, there’s really one variable, and it’s me,” Bakaly said. “On those [calm] days, I’m less distracted, more present and thus less stressed.”

The Free Fitness Series continues with Mindful Yoga in Manhattan Beach throughout July. In August, the program will continue with Zumba at Lincoln Elementary.

All events are planned for Mondays throughout July and August, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ER

 

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