30 minutes to get all our mind-body S**t done and love ourselves for it

I’ll admit it. I’m totally jealous.


Who are those women who have seemingly endless time to hit the gym, do a yoga class, meditate and move past all those worries, parent like a boss and have an endless array of sunshine on their perfect, perky hair? As physician and mom of two toddlers, I’m lucky to eat a hot meal every other week.


Sound familiar? As women, we are supposed to do more, live more, BE more. And do it all with work-life-family balance. Well, balance THIS, gurus.


What about we normal women that don’t wear a big gold “W” on our chest?  I’ve tried “the do-it-all routine” and I can tell you I was vastly unhappier with myself. I “did it all” right into therapy.


Guess what, ladies, we can’t do it all! And as a friend of mine said, “You sound fed up.”  Yep.  I totally am.


So, in the spirit of the new year, I’ve been racking my brain (does that count as mind-body work?)


How can us non-Amazonians do more for ourselves without hating ourselves for not achieving it all? It may not be the perfect solution, but I believe I’ve carved out only 30 minutes to accomplish all the mind-body s**t we aim to do.


Full disclosure: I tried this. I liked it. Totes gave me the feels that I did something good for me.  And as a time-challenged person, I liked that I completed so much in a short time and I noticed the effects stayed with me all day. I liked that I could break it up and do some in the a.m. and some at night.


In other words, it worked.


You can make up your own–the goal here is to ONLY do this much. Too often at the beginning of the year we try to “overdo” it and then we lose our steam.


Can you commit to 30 minutes?


Not sure how to wring 30 more minutes out of your already hectic day?


Once I did this program, I felt so good about myself I easily found the 30 minutes by cutting out:

Fretting about getting a workout in (20 minutes)

Harboring bad feelings or grudges (that could easily be 15 minutes a day)

Comparing myself to others (Infinity.  Ok, maybe 12 minutes.)


Wait, did I just find you an additional 42 minutes of time a DAY? WHAT? It’s a New Year and I’m like Mother-Freakin’ Time right now!  I bet I could totally find more, but in recognition of not “overdoing” it, let’s just keep it real for now.


And it gets better!


All you need to feel like a true mind-body warrior? You. Your mind. Your body. A timer.


30 Minutes of Mind-Body Bliss


Alternate nostril breathing (1 minute)

Ok, this premise is simple. Sit somewhere.


You can sit up straight and cross your legs to look cooler. Take your index finger and put it to the side of your nose (very important–to the SIDE, not INside). Plug one nostril and take a deep breath in through the one not plugged. Exhale through the same nostril. Repeat using the other finger and other nostril.


The benefits of this exercise? Scientifically, it can reduce blood pressure but it also balances out your energy and does relax you.


HIIT or Tabata (7-8 minutes)

Exercise that is beneficial for heart and muscle health in 7 minutes? Sign me up!


Tabata is a high-intensity workout done for very short periods of time (usually 8 minutes or less). The workout consists of 20 seconds of all-out exertion, followed by 10 seconds of rest.


Used by Olympic athletes to prime themselves for sport, a good Tabata leaves you feeling like you just conquered the world (and you may want to throw up a little bit).


Many Tabata apps are free.


Other great programs are the 7-minute workout challenge, which may cost a few dollars but geez, it’s a full workout in 7 minutes!


HIIT exercises burn calories fast, also helping with insulin resistance and diabetes.


Check with your doctor if you’re just starting a workout program.


Meditation (10 minutes. Yes, they exist.)

When I think of meditation, I think of a long, dreamy process, but in truth, you can do a beneficial mindful meditation in less than 10 minutes.


More importantly, there are guided meditations to take you through the steps.


Try this 7-minute loving-kindness meditation by meditation mama Megan Winkler


Apps like Calm and hypnotherapy apps by Andrew Johnson are other options that provide a short (<10 minute) respite from everyday stresses.


Legs up the wall (5 minutes)

Also known as Inverted Lake, this mild inverted yoga pose is known for a wide range of health benefits –improved digestion, brain function, relaxation and sleep–as well as its anti-aging effects.


Ancient Hindu scriptures claim that this pose hides wrinkles in addition to banishing old age and death. Um, count me in! While true yogis can do this pose from 30 minutes to several hours, we everyday gals can benefit from just 5 minutes of this a day.


“I am enough” affirmation in the mirror (1 minute)

This exercise seems so easy but it is HARD.


Looking yourself in the eye and saying this over and over for 1-minute works wonders for your self-esteem. Bonus points if you can do this exercise “nekkid” after getting out of the shower.


Difficult but empowering!


Journaling (5 minutes)

Journaling your goals for the week, dreams, worries, what have you. It can be a 5-minute doodle session, but connect your brain to hand to paper.


Forgiveness (1 minute)

For your friends, family and most importantly, for yourself. I do this at night right before bed. Forgiveness is a powerful tool.


And all of this, my lovelies, equals 30 minutes of total mind-body time. Some naysayers may balk at “timing” mind-body exercises, and I realize the multi-tasking mind-body gal isn’t the ideal, but it’s practical and the real deal.


Give yourself the gift of this 30 minutes each day–and find that your mind and body are both more resilient and stronger.


You can mix it up if you like (switch out child’s pose for legs up the wall), or add in a good clay facial while you’re doing your legs up the wall or meditation. Some days, you may need more mind than body or vice versa.  But most importantly, just stick to 30 minutes a day!


And tell me how it goes!  Maybe we can unlock some of those Amazonian secrets together and experience true mind-body bliss.


Heather Bartos, M.D., is a leading voice in the field of women’s health and wellness. Follow her on Twitter to learn more about living a healthier, more fulfilling life.


Yoga For Stress Relief

Frequently we hear about the benefits of yoga for stress relief. But why does yoga have such a reputation? Although yoga practitioners have known for thousands of years that the practice gives deep health benefits, the science world has been studying the physiological processes that are affected by yoga, supporting claims that it’s truly a stress-reliever.

Fight or Flight
“All stress – whether a screaming toddler or being chased by lions – triggers the body’s stress hormones,” explains Dr. Heather Bartos, of be. Women’s Health & Wellness. “This is nature’s survival mechanism, which is why we commonly call it the “fight or flight response.”

The stress response begins in the emotional part of the brain. A message gets sent to the center that controls functions such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. The “fight or flight’ side provides a burst of energy to avoid that oncoming tiger.  The body then activates the brain and adrenals, which helps to keep the stress response moving. Experience enough stress, and cortisol—the stress hormone—is released continuously.

Rest and Digest
When the perceived threat passes, cortisol levels fall, bringing the body back down to the “rest and digest” state where it can recover and go about normal bodily functions. “The less perceived stress the body feels, the better it can perform its functions that keep us alive, including regulation of blood pressure, sugar levels, and hormone levels…preventing daily “wear and tear” on the body,” says Dr. Bartos.

Chronic Stress Prevents Restoration
Chronic low-level stress keeps the “fight or flight” activated, which can contribute to health problems including persistent surges in epinephrine that can damage blood vessels; increased blood pressure and risk of heart attack or stroke. Chronically elevated cortisol can lead to buildup of fat tissue, weight gain, and eventually chronic exhaustion.

Yoga Helps Improve the Stress Response
Yoga requires the body to go into both the sympathetic “fight or flight” mode (hold a  warrior pose for two minutes–your legs feel like they will collapse, your heart rate climbs) as well as the renewing parasympathetic “rest and digest” mode where the body readjusts and comes back to calm (you take a meditative forward bend on the floor, the heart rate lowers, and breathing returns to normal). Dr. Bartos clarifies, “All yoga poses are considered restorative in some fashion, simply due to the varied benefits of doing them; stretching and strengthening your body; improving breathing; inverting the body to help with lymph drainage; hormone regulation; immune system strengthening, and the list goes on.”  If you are looking for the optimum mind-body workout—this one’s for you.

Heather Bartos MD owns be. Women’s Health & Wellness, which offers ob/gyn services as well as aesthetics and wellness and yoga classes in the clinic.  Evening classes are now available! Class schedules are online at BeAGreatWoman.com. 

3 Restorative Poses

  1. Reclining Cobbler’s Pose
    Your prop should be firm, not squishy (a stack of three or four firm blankets folded to the width of about 12 inches, or a yoga bolster; add another blanket as a pillow). Sit just in front of the support. Once you lay back, if the low back isn’t happy, move the prop a few inches away from the back and settle back in.
  2. Supported Child’s Pose
    Use a stack of 3 or 4 blankets folded to about 12 inches wide (make the prop higher if you are not comfortable at this height). Kneel on the floor, and make the legs wide enough to pull the blanket stack all the way to the inner thighs. Lean forward, getting as much of your tummy on the prop as possible, so your entire upper body is supported. Allow the seat to sink down toward the heels. Rest the arms wherever they are comfortable.
  3. Legs Up the Wall
    Caution: If you are menstruating or have high intra-ocular pressure, don’t do “Legs Up the Wall”.
    This one can be a bit awkward to get into, but it’s totally worth it! Set the 3-4 blanket stack about 5 inches from the wall. Once you’re settled in, the blanket stack should be helping to open your chest/heart area up and outward. The legs can be in a variety of positions; to keep them up the wall, use just enough leg muscle to keep them from bending.