In January, Alia Sebben became intimately aware of a universal truth, one of those facts you recognize but don’t fully understand until it spits up on you and screams all night: Being a single mother is not conducive to moments of calm. Typically, the founder and owner of Boulder’s Amana Yoga would have turned to her vinyasa practice to quell her mounting anxiety and stress, but her body was still recovering after giving birth to daughter Penelope—and she barely had time to sleep, let alone flow, for an hour. So she turned instead to meditation and yoga nidra, or yogic sleep—activities that got her through those first three pivotal months as she devoted herself to her newborn.
Sebben gained so much from these meditative practices that she felt compelled to pass on the techniques to the public. Already in the process of creating pre- and post-natal yoga classes for Louisville-based Gaiam, a yoga and wellness product company, the 30-year-old began designing a series of workshops specifically targeting mental health. They launch on Gaiam’s Yoga Studio app June 21—good timing given the raised level of awareness around the topic since Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain committed suicide earlier this month.
“My primary goal is to give people access to tools that empower them to be their own healer, their own advocate,” Sebben says. “I think there are so many options available to people experiencing mental health issues, but this is the most sustainable and simple and accessible tool.”
Sebben’s collection boasts classes with approachable names, like “Remove Blockages” and “Restore From Burnout.” They encourage you to incorporate props such as blocks and blankets to add an extra level of comfort. And they move slowly, emphasizing breath and attention over form and complexity. Garrett Shawstad, director of digital media at Gaiam and the developer of Yoga Studio, says this is one of the app’s first collections to incorporate the mind as well as the body. “There’s this added focus on meditation as a part of yoga instead of them being two separate things,” he says. The best part: You’ll only have to pay $1.99 a month to access the classes (and the other collections on the Yoga Studio app).
If you’re still not convinced, Sebben will be teaching a free sample class at Amana Yoga on Thursday, June 21 at 4 p.m. (also International Yoga Day). You’ll even get a free yoga mat from Gaiam—proof that life will often reward you if you simply show up for yourself.