“Breathing is one of the few body functions that occurs spontaneously and voluntarily. We define breathing as any practice that handles breathing,” says Raed Khawaja, CEO and co-founder of Open, a digital wellness platform that aims to provide affordable inclusive well-being practices such as breathing. “By manipulating breathing through targeted breathing techniques, we can access a number of physiological and psychological benefits. Some have been studied in clinical settings, others are more anecdotal and appear on an emotional level.” Some of these benefits include reducing stress and promoting better sleep.
The first part of the lesson, which was characterized by a feeling of shortness of breath, made me question all the decisions in life that led me to that very moment in time, which I regretted at that moment. But I kept going, and then I felt it: the silence and silence that people describe that I found during meditation that I never seemed to be able to find. Do you know how when you start your computer, the machine flashes to warm up, but then stops and beeps before the screen returns? This is how I felt during the lesson, after overcoming the shortness of breath of the warm-up exercises. And after class, I felt ready to break free — as if I were going to hide in my room and cry, but in a good way.
“I believe that awareness is the gateway to prosperity,” says Khawaja. “I grew up in a wonderful Muslim home and learned prayer from a very young age. I would not call it “meditation practice” at the time, but that was exactly what it was for me. “Every Friday, I would go with hundreds of people to my local mosque as we prayed with a billion other Muslims around the world.” and this was a guiding inspiration for the cultivation of the Open Community.
“We started to make you feel like you’re practicing with your friends and community in your local studio – a feeling many of us really missed last year.” – Raed Khawaja, CEO and co-founder of Open
Although Open was originally designed to be a brick-and-mortar studio (it hosted more than 100 pop-ups in San Francisco in 2019 and was scheduled to open a permanent studio in 2020 before the pandemic struck), those plans changed. At the start of the pandemic, “we quickly strengthened our team and focused all our resources and focus on translating the magic of personal experience into something you could access from anywhere,” says Khawaja. “We have invested a lot of resources to ensure that we offer the most immersive audiovisual experience for live streaming.” From there, the team looked at what features would best allow users to interact with their community, which includes people from more than 130 cities and 40 countries.
“People like to be able to turn on their camera to receive live feedback from teachers, chat with others in the classroom and even connect with moments from birthdays to world events,” says Khawaja. “We started to make you feel like you’re practicing with your friends and community in your local studio – a feeling many of us really missed last year.”
The application offers lessons in three ways: Breathing, Moving and Meditation. (If you’re not sure where to start, there is a guided research that can lead you in a direction based on your specific goals). That said, each of the experiences in the app is “designed to meet you where you are,” says Khawaja. “Someone who has never meditated before can go to the same class as someone who has been practicing for 10 years and will both benefit from reliable access to the presence and sense of community.”
You can also filter classes by mode, duration (there are lessons ranging from one minute to 60 minutes) and instructor. Both on-demand and live courses are included in the subscription — which, after a two-week free trial, costs either $ 20 a month or $ 10 a month with an annual subscription – and each course comes with notes on what to expect. live. Educators also report contraindications — such as if you are pregnant, have asthma, or are prone to seizures — in both the application and personal lessons to make sure everyone is safe. Basically, if you are looking for a Peloton-type community for awareness, breathing and meditation (along with Pilates and yoga), Open is the answer.
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