Body by Boston: Stress Less

By Anne Vickman | Boston Magazine |

IF YOU’VE NEVER heard of yoga, let us be the first to welcome you out of your apocalypse bunker. Happy 2012! But if you’ve simply never tried it, start slowly. “Be kind to your body,” says David Vendetti, co-owner of South Boston Yoga Studio. “If your body says it doesn’t feel right, it’s definitely not for you.” Not right now, that is. But a little practice and your body will be firm and flexible in no time.

Stress Less

Release your inner tension without ever breaking a sweat.

Chances are your daily commute carries you right to the brink of overstressed. But what if you could undo your worries — work headaches, road rage, and all — in the same amount of time?

[sidebar]Herbert Benson, director of the Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Mass General, claims that’s all it takes. For the past 40 years, he’s been singing the praises of the Relaxation Response, a fast-acting chill-out technique he developed that now boasts thousands of devotees.

Here’s how it works: While breathing slowly and sitting comfortably with closed eyes, start repeating a simple word (Benson suggests “one”), phrase, or movement for up to 20 minutes. If you get distracted, just return to your word.

Sound easy? It is. And Benson insists that it works. According to his research, the Relaxation Response causes a stressed-out body to change. In the short term, metabolism and heart rate decrease. Over the long haul, immunity increases and cells appear to age more slowly. If it’s a miracle drug, your brain is the pharmacy. And the best part? It’s always open.

Next page: Where to find yoga on the cheap.

Illustration by Resident Alien

Om Free

Not sure if your body bends like that? Short on cash? Lucky for you, the yoga mindset encourages sharing the practice with the uninitiated. That means you can exploit… er, accept the kindness of strangers without breaking your budget.

1. Limber up with pre–Freedom Trail tourists and bargain-savvy locals at the Liberty Hotel’s courtyard yoga classes on Saturdays at 10 a.m. The free sessions, led by Equinox instructors, run outside all summer long and move indoors during cooler months. Bring your own mat. 215 Charles St., Boston,

2. The once-in-a-while community class at All One Yoga aims to break down the monetary barriers to beginning your yogic journey. That’s $5 well spent. Call for availability, 1065 Commonwealth Ave., Boston,

3. Whether you call it community service or slick marketing, yoga and running-gear purveyor Lululemon hosts free monthly community classes at different locations.

4. If peace of mind is more your speed than a dripping-sweat workout, the Shambhala Meditation Center offers weekly classes for only a $5 suggested donation. 646 Brookline Ave., Brookline, — Shevaun Betzler

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