Trainer, wellness coach, and in-demand Zeel Virtual Wellness instructor Mahri Relin gives her clients intelligent, personalized, and joyful fitness experiences that support them through the most important phases of their lives. Here’s part two of Zeel Co-founder Alison Harmelin’s interview with Mahri about maintaining fitness, health, and positivity every day. (Read part one here!)
Alison Harmelin: You are a much sought-after mindfulness instructor on the Zeel platform. How do you help others calm their minds and focus, especially during these unusually challenging times?
Mahri Relin: Thank you, I love practicing and leading mindfulness sessions. I think the key is really tuning in to the kinds of anxiety that people are feeling right now and planning mindfulness sessions that help people address what’s bothering them.
For example, I think many people are worried about the future and the unknown. Leading groups through a practice of paying attention to the present—focusing on the feelings and sensations we experience in the moment—really helps people stay more connected to their surroundings rather than getting swept away by future worries. And I also focus on releasing tension in each part of the body so that they learn to recognize where they feel their stress and how to let it go.
AH: There’s a saying that “mistakes are proof that you’re trying.” On my very first night as a TV news anchor I was so nervous I signed off “When we come back, we’ll be back.” You must have a story from your dancing days to rival that…
MR: Oh my gosh, yes—too many to count! My favorite was when I was playing the role of Rosalia in the La Scala Opera House production of West Side Story in Milan. There was a lot of pressure to perform beautifully every night as you can imagine, and we were singing with one of the most wonderful orchestras in the world. As Rosalia, I would sing the song, “America,” with Anita, and I completely forgot the lyrics at the end of one of the phrases. I simply couldn’t think fast enough, so I did all of the gestures I normally did but sang total gibberish—literally, a tumble of sounds came out of my mouth that made no sense! I was mortified, but no one said anything.
Our dance captain came up to me later that night to give me notes, and she said, “I couldn’t hear what you said at the end of that phrase. Could you just say them more clearly?” She didn’t realize that I hadn’t uttered a single real word!
AH: Anyone who has ever suffered from lower back pain knows that it impacts every facet of your life—and the dining room chair in the new WFH economy certainly isn’t helping. You have taught both yoga and stretch to hundreds of Zeel’s corporate clients. What are your top 3 movements to ease pain in the lower back?
MR: I always ask my Zeel groups what they need the most, and I receive requests to relieve their lower back almost every time. Here are my 3 favorite movements:
“Cat-cow is a very common yoga move, and you can do versions of it from lots of different positions.”
- “The basic movement is arching your back and looking up, followed by curving forward and looking toward your belly button.”
- “Coordinate this with an inhale on the arch and exhale on the curve.”
- “The typical position is on your hands and knees on a mat, but you can also do it in a chair (great for people who want quick relief while working) or from a standing position.”
“Back pain is often exacerbated by poor core strength, and it’s amazing how much better your low back will feel after some core work.”
- “Lay flat on your back, and bend both knees with your feet flat on the floor.”
- “Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the side, and do small crunches off the ground—don’t lift too high. Try doing at least 20 crunches in this position.”
- “Make sure you exhale every time you lift your upper body. Notice how much better your back feels when you’re done!”
Lower back stretch with an arm pull:
“To do this one, look for something in your home that’s approximately hip height and fixed to the ground, such as a railing. A door frame works, too.”
- “Hold onto the fixed structure firmly with both hands. Bend your knees, curve your low back, and pull your body away as much as you can with your arms straight.”
- “Notice how and where you feel the stretch, and consider bending slowly to each side to target each part of your low back.”
- “Make sure you breathe into the tightness, and do it slowly to enhance the release of your muscles.”
About Mahri Relin
An in-demand Zeel Virtual Wellness instructor, Mahri Relin has used her extensive research and experience as a professional dancer, personal trainer, and expert in wellness and nutrition to provide clients with the most intelligent, personalized, and joyful fitness experience possible.
Mahri’s passion for fitness was born out of a 12-year international dance career. This led her to work as a trainer for the Tracy Anderson Studio, later becoming Creative Director for FlyBarre at Flywheel Sports. Through this experience Mahri discovered major gaps in fitness solutions for women going through their most significant life events and changes, so she founded Body Conceptions by Mahri to offer expert support and personalized fitness.
Mahri is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, AFPA Pre and Postnatal Exercise Specialist, Certified Postnatal Corrective exercise Specialist, Certified Wellness and Nutrition Consultant, and fitness enthusiast.
Alison Harmelin is the mother of three and co-founder of Zeel, along with her husband Samer Hamadeh. Before becoming an “accidental entrepreneur,” Harmelin spent fifteen years in broadcast news as an anchor and reporter, covering such events as the September 11th attacks, the London bombings, and Hurricane Katrina.