Bending and twisting was meant to be about preventing further injury for yogi Will Bamford, but now it's also about inner peace.
Wife Chrissie signed him up for yoga after a "myriad of injuries", and while it's keeping his fitness up, it's also helping reduce stress for the 33-year-old dad, who is a senior project manager for Rotorua Lakes Council and a masters degree student in construction project management.
"I spend a lot of my time talking on the phone, so having an hour a week where I'm not talking, that's been a bit of a change for me. That kind of grounds you. It's been really good."
He's been practising yoga for a month, having previously done pilates.
In today's busy world, many employees work out in pursuit of physical and mental fitness but now a growing number also practise diaphragmatic breathing, meditation and mindfulness to lower their stress.
It involves keeping still and focusing on your breath, thinking only of the present moment, rather than rehashing the past or projecting to the future. It can be done anywhere - sitting at your desk, or in traffic.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Health welcomed recommendations in the report "Protecting and promoting mental wellbeing: beyond Covid-19" about the need for additional mental health and wellbeing support through community-led solutions.
Some employers have been quick to action this, offering workplace wellness events.
Sarah Lei from Yoga Rotorua says they offer a bespoke programme, which works with businesses' needs. For example, a tourism company recently committed to an hour of yoga for six weeks, while staff at a local school, who'd experienced some personal challenges and bereavements, came for a one-off session.
"We do breathing exercises as well and focus inwards. For a lot of people, it's just a chance to stop and take a break from their busy lives."
Aongatete's Grant Rix directs the programme Pause Breathe Smile, where teachers are trained to teach mindfulness to students.
"We have a focus on the wellbeing of teachers as well because we really recognise that they need to be in a good space."
The normalisation of mindfulness means there are fewer sceptics, says Rix, who this year secured Southern Cross funding to provide the Pause Breathe Smile programme to all primary and intermediate schools for free.
"There's just so much more buy-in from schools. Covid has been a huge catalyst for increased stress but sadly this trend has been increasing for quite a number of years."
And if you're not getting your zen on, you should be, says journalist and wellness coach Rachel Grunwell, who explains that mindfulness and meditation are not buzzwords or "woo-woo" but practices supported by strong science-backed evidence.
Mindfulness' popularity has been strengthened by a body of research showing it reduces stress and anxiety, improves attention and memory, raises productivity and promotes self-regulation.
Grunwell is a qualified meditation and yoga teacher, wellness influencer and Polynesian Spa ambassador - co-leading their Mindful Moments retreats. She also wrote the book Balance, Food, Health + Happiness.
As meditation and mindfulness become more mainstream, minds are opening, and you don't have to spend a lot of money to benefit.
"One of the science-based ideas is 'nature nurtures' or biophilia, which means getting into the Redwood Forest, going for a swim in the lake or the sea. Being in nature resets your wellbeing," Grunwell says.
Feelings of calm are increased further when you find your "flow" through an activity that you're passionate about.
She gives the example of running, and she is a Rotorua Marathon ambassador.
"When I first started running it was really hard, I really didn't enjoy it, I couldn't find flow, but the more I did it, I got better at it and now I've got quite a high skill set and I've run multiple marathons, including Rotorua several times over.
"I can find flow through running. I'm out in nature, I get lost in the moment, you get in the state of being and you get this incredible, chemical release in your body."
High-intensity exercise is also something that gives Pāpāmoa's Dan Arnold mental fuel.
He meditates in the traditional sense, but more regularly through running an hour a day, four to five times a week.
Added to that, he and wife Annaliese Arnold, a mindfulness, mindset and meditation coach, lead couples workshops and a "Sunday Summit" where they plan their week, scheduling in both individual self-care and time together.
The burgeoning trend of creating calmness has huge benefits for men, who he says have come a long way in breaking down the stigma of mental health, but still have a fair way to go compared to women.
"I think a lot of men think of mindfulness as a more feminine pursuit. When in fact we all want to be happy, regardless of gender," he says.
The 39-year-old video producer and dad of three wants to see mindfulness pitched to men as a high-performance fitness regime or "personal trainer for your mind", changing deep-rooted beliefs that seeking to improve yourself and your relationship is an admission of weakness.
"It takes guts to be vulnerable and learn new tools and habits to improve our life."
The same goes for women.
It wasn't until Angelena Davies wound up in the hospital with a "broken body and a broken spirit" that she knew things had to change.
It was 2012 and the Mount Maunganui woman had just spent a year juggling children and doing her master thesis in social sciences, while her husband regularly worked away.
"It was hard," she recalls. "My stress became chronic."
It took her years to recover but she says it shouldn't have been that way.
"If I had the tools and knowledge I have now I would never have pushed myself that hard. I think we need to normalise resting and being so-called 'lazy'."
Davies set up Flow in 2015 and runs workshops, classes, one-on-one sessions and retreats to help people become more mindful and aware by tuning into their intuition and using their voice.
"Learning mindfulness is simple but it's the social stigma around doing nothing that lets people down," she says.
"We are so conditioned to believe we need to be constantly striving and achieving all the time. Well, what if we weren't? What would that change for us?"
Davies has two main groups of clients - anxious children aged 5-18 years, and mothers in their 30s and 40s who have issues of over-thinking, over-worrying and as a result, being overwhelmed.
"And they are just over it. They want change."
It's the same thing Annaliese Arnold sees.
Her mum clients crave self-care which for her, looks like this.
She rises at 4.45am and does journal writing (intention setting and gratitude), affirmations, visualisation, reading, and some form of movement.
She runs the online community: Kickass Mummas and the Kickass Co, as well as courses and retreats, and meditation group Chill Out, Tune In Meditations, which she began in level 4 lockdown.
At the end of the course, one client wrote a thankful note saying she'd been stressed dealing with her children, her self-worth impacted her confidence, and life in general had "just felt hard".
"Although I didn't show it outwards, I was screaming on the inside," the woman wrote. "I look back now and I wonder how long I could have lasted living like that."
Mindfulness recognises that the mind plays the most important role of "self".
"Master your mind and the rest follows," Annaliese says.
"We're coming into an age of recognising the importance of taking care of our mind and soul, as well as our bodies."
This awakening is what's given wellness influencers their huge platform.
Tasha Meys, the content creator at Tastefully Tash and co-founder of Ace the Gram, says influencers have "massively" contributed to a powerful wellness movement, however, it's dangerous when unqualified personalities tell their followers what to do, especially when it comes to controversial dieting or fitness programmes.
She points the finger at celebrity chef Pete Evans, who's been criticised for touting health conspiracies.
"When [credible] influencers share their journeys and knowledge, they inspire, educate and introduce their followers to new wellness practices that benefit their lives.
"People love feeling like they can do something to boost their health, so they're hungry for any information or techniques to do so."
10 tips to manage stress
1. Enjoy a hot bath, pool, or sauna to relax and unwind. Rotorua's Polynesian Spa has 28 pools of different temperatures.
2. Think well. Use science-backed tools like mindfulness to help you to analyse your thoughts with a wiser mind so you can respond more skilfully with others and feel happier.
3. Sleep well (roughly 7-8 hours if you are an adult. Kids need more).
4. Try tai chi or yoga.
5. Meditate. It gives you a powerful reset, helping you to slow down, pause, think sharper, and strengthen.
6. Pat a cat or dog.
7. Learn diaphragmatic breathing to find calm anywhere and anytime you need it.
8. Have "badass huggability" - hug more. Feel connected, loved and happier.
9. Take time for play, be joyful, goof around, and have fun doing stuff you love to do.
10. Exercise to shake stress, get strong, and look and feel great.
Source: Rachel Grunwell's wellness book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness (available via inspired health.co.nz)