Self-care is a concept often talked about vaguely on the Internet, but knowing where to start when building your own routine comes down to personal needs and preferences. A holistic approach to self-care requires a balance between different aspects and an understanding of how those different parts interact and support each other. A common approach is fitness, but pushing yourself physically without taking time to care for your emotional and spiritual needs will make working out less of an act of self-care and more of a chore. Finding a way to make fitness fun and balance it with other self-care practices, like mindfulness and spirituality, can lift your spirit, build space for confidence and help you keep a fresh attitude to fuel your next workout.
FITNESS + MOVEMENT
“Fitness is self-care,” says D.C.-based personal trainer Errick McAdams. “They’re the same thing. If you exercise and move your body, you feel better.” Exercise can be more than a trip to the gym. Any kind of movement has the capacity to elevate your mood and help relieve stress. “Exercise looks different to everybody depending on what condition you’re in when you start,” he adds. “Your exercise doesn’t have to look like [that of a] fitness guru on Instagram. Any extra activity you do is exercise.” The key is finding a challenging but enjoyable form of exercise to incorporate into your routine. Follow personal trainer Errick McAdams on Instagram @errickpt.
Body Inclusive Fitness
Body Positive Boot Camp. Body Positive Boot Camp is a D.C.-based fitness program for people of all body sizes and abilities to work out in an affirming environment. Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness, workouts are tailored to the needs and fitness goals of each client. Body Positive Boot Camp offers virtual personal training with founder Bianca Russo, as well as classes like Zumba, bodyweight workouts and yoga fusion. Learn more about Russo and body positivity workouts in this month’s In Other Words column. Go to www.bodypositivebootcamp.com for more information.
the be.come project. the be.come project takes a body-neutral approach to fitness. The program encourages people to respect their bodies and focuses on feeling good and finding calm, rather than targeting physical insecurities. For $35 per month, clients receive a weekly 25-minute pilates-inspired workout to perform throughout the week to build confidence and familiarity. Learn more at
Leavell Up Fitness. Started by Lauren Leavell after years of searching for affordable and accessible workouts, Leavell Up Fitness provides workouts and other resources for people moving toward a more body-neutral mindset for fitness. The lowest-level membership ($39.99 per month) provides clients with four live workouts a week and recordings with guest fitness instructors, and allows people in the classes to connect with each other over their journeys and goals. Follow Leavell’s Instagram @laurenleavellfitness and go to www.laurenleavellfitness.com for inclusive fitness tips and workout inspiration.
Vinyasa (Flow) Yoga. In vinyasa yoga, poses are strung together to make a sequence, and each movement is in sync with a breath in or out. Vinyasa can be done slowly or fast, and is closely related to Ashtanga yoga, which has a set series of poses, and power yoga, which is an even more athletic take on the yoga flow. Bhakti Yoga DC is a studio specializing in vinyasa yoga with virtual and limited in-person classes. Learn more at www.bhaktiyogadc.com.
Aerial Yoga. Aerial yoga uses a hammock to assist with poses and add an element of excitement not found in traditional yoga routines. The support of the hammock makes difficult poses more accessible and allows for stretches that can help decompress your spine. Flying Buddha Studio is one D.C. location with options for aerial yoga classes as well as aerial arts classes, which are focused on flips and tricks using the hammocks. Learn more about Flying Buddha in our interview with studio owner and cover subject Sarah Rehman and visit www.flyingbuddhastudio.com for additional information.
Restorative Yoga. Some styles of yoga were created to make you sweat. Others, like restorative yoga, are a way to stretch and relax the mind and body. After a week of higher-intensity workouts, restorative yoga can act as a physical palate cleanser to help reset your body and mind. This type of yoga also encourages the use of props such as yoga blocks, blankets and bolsters to make holding poses for long periods of time easier.
Roller Derby. Roller derby is known for being an empowering and inclusive sport. The DMV is home to the DC Rollergirls, NOVA Roller Derby and Free State Roller Derby. While DC Rollergirls and most other derby leagues have stopped group practices and bouts, or games, almost all require some skating experience before starting. Now is the perfect time to pick up some roller skates and find your track legs. Learn more at www.dcrollergirls.com, www.novarollerderby.com and www.freestaterollerderby.com.
Rebounding. Put on your favorite high-energy music and jump your cares away. Rebounding is a low-impact, high-intensity workout done on a mini-trampoline, and it’s easy to do at home. According to Fuel Body Lab, a D.C. gym that offers a trampoline class, rebounding protects the joints and helps your lymphatic system flow more efficiently. YouTube has many videos for rebounding beginners, and gyms like Fuel Body Lab offer live classes over Zoom. Learn more at www.fuelbodylab.com.
Dance. Dance can be a fun, high-energy way to work out without feeling like you’re working out. Before you pull out your old Wii and dust off Just Dance, check out some online classes with more up-to-date songs and moves. 305 Fitness and AKT both offer virtual dance classes sure to make you sweat. Sign up for classes at www.305fitness.com and www.theakt.com.
Boxing. Sometimes the best self-care is a workout that helps release pent-up emotions, like boxing or kickboxing. Fight Camp makes at-home boxing a possibility with video workouts, a gear-purchasing program and trackable training statistics. The program uses a combination of boxing and bodyweight exercises for a full body cardio and strength workout that can be completed in a short amount of time. Learn more at www.joinfightcamp.com.
Expert’s Corner: Natalie Edelstein, Tone with Natalie
Before Covid-19, Natalie Edelstein taught yoga part-time in a studio. After realizing many of her friends’ fitness routines had been upset by the pandemic, she started teaching classes for them, which grew into Tone with Natalie. Edelstein now holds classes two times a week over Zoom for a growing number of followers.
District Fray: How can people benefit from incorporating movement into their self-care routine?Natalie Edelstein: You can do challenging HIIT [high-intensity interval training] workouts that feel really good, and you can also stretch for two hours. Both of those are equal in self-care. Fitness is one piece of this huge self-care puzzle, and when you put all the pieces together, you feel comfortable in your body or your skin. If a few pieces are missing, it doesn’t totally look right.
What can people expect from a Tone with Natalie class?
Most classes have an intention we set individually or as a community, something that’s a goal we can think about during our practice. I try to make those about internal reflection, like intention on acceptance or intention on gratitude. Things like that really help people immerse themselves in the 40 minutes or hour of class so they can devote time to themselves, [and] get stronger or feel better.
MINDFULNESS + MEDITATION
“Mindfulness practices allow us to get to know ourselves and what we want for our own happiness, so we can then genuinely offer love and compassion in the most authentic way to others,” says Dinah Simpson of HI KI LIVING, where she provides clients in and around the District with personal wellness support. Getting to know yourself is just the beginning of how mindfulness practices can enhance self-care. At HI KI LIVING, Simpson helps clients experience the benefits of meditation, which include stress and anxiety reduction, enhanced attention span, and improved emotional well-being. The self-awareness found through mindfulness can also bring confidence to other areas of life, like physical performance.
This type of meditation, famously practiced by Hugh Jackman and writer and director David Lynch, is a less traditional take on meditation practices. According to the Transcendental Meditation movement’s website, rather than emphasizing concentration or control of thoughts, Transcendental Meditation uses the “natural tendency of the mind to automatically draw your attention inward.” The David Lynch Foundation’s Meditation Center offers Transcendental Meditation courses in D.C. Learn more at www.tm.org/transcendental-meditation-dc and www.davidlynchfoundation.org/washington-dc.
The Japanese practice “shinrin-yoku” literally translates to “forest bath,” but rather than a literal dip into a body of water, forest bathing is a mindful walk in nature. Unlike a hike, forest bathing has no final destination and is instead focused on taking in the natural world through the senses. Friends of the National Arboretum, which frequently holds forest bathing walks, explains that forest bathing benefits include “boosted immunity, lowered blood pressure and heart rate, improved attention and mood, and hitting the reset button on life.” Find more information on forest bathing walks at the National Arboretum at www.fona.org.
Emotional Freedom Technique
Based on traditional Chinese acupuncture, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is the process of tapping acupressure points on the body to help relieve physical and emotional pain. Gary Craig, the founder of EFT, explains on his website that focusing on a specific problem, fear or negative emotion while tapping pressure points on the body will help unlock the body’s flow of energy. Craig’s website has a free guide on EFT basics, and the Washington DC Hypnosis Center offers practitioner-led sessions for EFT beginners. Go to www.emofree.com and www.hypnosiswashingtondc.com for more.
Expert’s Corner: Dinah Simpson, HI KI LIVING
Simpson founded HI KI LIVING in September 2020 after years of practicing meditation to confront her own emotional trauma. The idea of using her own experiences with mindfulness to help others in the D.C. area came to Simpson during meditation.
District Fray: How can people benefit from incorporating meditation into their self-care routines?
Dinah Simpson: Meditation offers benefits to your mental and physical health. It increases tranquil focus while decreasing the “clutter” in the mind. Through the practice of becoming more aware and present, you are able to cultivate a deeper sense of inner calm and develop new perspectives.
What can clients expect during a session of guided meditation at HI KI LIVING?
I like to spend time getting to know why a client might be interested in trying meditation. It’s important to develop a trusting relationship so we can explore your journey and manifest the best version of you. From that connection, I am able to read a client’s energy and drop into a guided meditation to support your healing and transformation.
SPIRITUAL + MYSTICAL
Finding a greater sense of purpose is an integral part of the human experience, and spiritual self-care practices can enhance one’s feeling of belonging. For many, that need has traditionally been met by organized religion. “It allows us to feel safe, protected and connected to other humans and something greater than ourselves,” says D.C.-based tarot practitioner Emily of Woven Psyche. “It allows us to find solace and comfort when we struggle to explain how bad things happen. It lets us feel a sense of higher purpose and meaning.” But Emily also mentioned changes in the religious landscape in the United States, which have allowed opportunities for new types of spiritual self-care to arise that are less connected to structured religion.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first known mention of tarot cards dates to Italy in the 1400s, but their use in fortune telling and divination did not emerge until the 19th century. The emergence of using the cards for readings resulted in meanings being applied to the imagery on the cards and their relation to each other when pulled. Today, the art of tarot is practiced in psychic and non-psychic ways, and you don’t need someone to do a reading for you. Learning tarot is easier than ever due to the availability to purchase tarot cards online and find free and paid guides on how to do readings.
Astrology makes predictions based on the alignment of stars, planets and other heavenly bodies. According to the American Federation of Astrologers, astrology can be traced back to the Babylonian Empire. Out of their basic astrology, mostly used to predict patterns for agriculture, came Zodiac signs and horoscope charts based on birth times. Today, finding your chart is easy if you know the day, time and location of your birth, and various apps like Time Passages by Astrograph and Sanctuary bring personalized horoscopes to your phone. Learn more at www.astrograph.com and www.sanctuaryworld.co.
Expert’s Corner: Emily, Woven Psyche
Emily founded Woven Psyche in 2018 in an effort to provide accessible and approachable self-care in the District through non-psychic tarot readings. Rather than a predictor of the future, she serves as a facilitator who interprets a client’s reactions during readings. She also provides services for people learning tarot or launching their own spiritual business.
District Fray: How can people benefit from tarot as a part of their self-care routine?
Emily: We all have subconscious associations with different visual stimuli, and so everyone has a different gut reaction when looking at a tarot card. That tells us about ourselves, and with the guidance of a skilled tarot reader – who is really more a guide or a facilitator of sorts – we can organize our thoughts, better understand our emotions, and develop a stronger sense of clarity and empowerment.
What can clients expect from a Woven Psyche tarot reading?
A Woven Psyche tarot reading is super interactive. It’s a two-way conversation, and I want my clients to be active participants. I pride myself on keeping things accessible and approachable, and keeping my clients at ease. I personally don’t make any spiritual or occult references during my readings and try to meet my clients at exactly their level.
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