One Community Conversations: Lisa Bragaw of Zen and Now

by | Mar 30, 2020 | One Community Conversations | 0 comments

We recently spoke with Lisa Bragaw, owner of Zen and Now in Nianctic. Learn about thea collaborative effort  she has joined to help our greater community.

Plus, Lisa is offering virtual mind and body classes. Head on over to her Facebook page to support her local business and get yourself grounded!


Tell us about Zen and Now and what you guys are doing to help support the community during these trying times?

Zen and Now is a yoga and fitness wellness center, and we are closed at the moment for classes. We actually closed before we were mandated to close because we wanted to keep our community safe and healthy, because our goal is to keep people healthy and work towards wellness. 

So it’s really hard when there’s trying times when there’s a crisis, people band together and they want to help. That’s just our human nature. It’s so hard here in this situation because we’re being asked to stay away from each other. People are looking for any way that they could get together and help the community. 

I have a friend who’s also a yoga instructor. She did her training through our studio, and she’s an Episcopal priest in Willimantic. She asked me just to get some donation of yoga mats, because she has a homeless population and most of her parish is homeless and very poor. She asked for some yoga mats because the shelter was going to close to allow social distancing. And these people were going to have to be outside in tents. So she wanted the yoga mats to provide some insulation and cushioning underneath the tents.

The outpouring of help was amazing. We set up somebody boxes outside of the studio and we got so so many things – not only yoga mats – but tents and warm clothing and sleeping bags and food and so many things. So the community is just amazing. They banded together and the people who have received these gifts are just thrilled over the top thrilled with the outpouring of compassion and support and they don’t feel so alone anymore.


Has it surprised you how quickly our communities have come together during this time?

No, I really think people are chomping at the bit to do something. We kind of feel lost. It’s scary times, trying times and people want to do what they can to help people that are less fortunate.


What are your members doing right now to stay engaged with their health?

We’ve offered some online classes, I’ve put some meditations and some all level practices out on YouTube right now. We’re going to work towards doing Zoom classes, and we’re hoping to launch one tonight or tomorrow morning, so people can actually practice together, we can see each other in the gallery and be a community while social distancing at the same time.


What are your top tips for everyone to stay healthy right now?

As a pharmacist and as a yoga and fitness instructor, I think moving your body is so important. Hydrating, rest, we have the opportunity now to get more rest to make good choices and what we eat. Nourishing your body, your mind your spirit, and just really elevating the vibe.

If we get into that cycle of fear and chaos, then that actually lowers our immune response. If we can raise the vibe and feel better. I put a daily energy routine that I do every morning up our YouTube page, and it’s kind of silly. It’s like some funny, silly movements but it feels so good. Every morning I do it and it just raises my vibe and I get more energetic, I feel more balanced, I feel more grounded and just really more prepared to handle whatever comes my way. 


I like that you said keeping the negativity out of your life, so would you prescribe not watching the news during this time?

I’d be careful of how much news you watch, especially before bedtime because this is a time where people are panicking. They’re not sleeping. They’re fearful of their own health. Watching the news right before bedtime, even for just sleep hygiene, watching TV before bed is not a great idea, regardless of what you watch. But if watching things that causes anxiety, right before bed, it’s not a good idea. 

You want to be informed, you want to be knowledgeable, I would just be careful of where you get your news from. I would recommend, the more up to date resources like the CDC is probably the best source. 

Even in the most dire situations, we can find joy, it’s something that’s inside of us. Happiness may depend on something outside of us. Like if I get this, if I get that job, if I lose these pounds, if I whatever, then I’ll be happy. But joy is something we have inside us. We can choose to be grateful for the things we do have. Even if we are sick, we can be thankful that we have the community, we have medications. 

We can also prevent it and we been given this gift right now to isolate and to protect ourselves and our neighbors. And so it’s nice that people are listening to that and trying to flatten the curve and allow the healthcare system to try to stay ahead of things or stay on top of things.


There continue to be boxes outside of Zen and Now for items to be dropped off. What items do they still need?

They have so many tents and blankets and warm clothes right now. It’s a collaborative effort between the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic and the  No Free Shelter. They are creating survival bags for each person. They’re looking to add protein, like snack-size protein, things like tuna fish or granola bars, soft granola bars, preferably, just to help sustain them, but also treats you know to have something that’s a little fun, maybe candy, not a lot of candy, but that clementines or apples. They’re looking for nutritious things. They’re also looking for bug spray and small flashlights that take double A or triple A batteries as well as double and triple-A batteries. 

Any kind of plasticwear, paper goods, and takeout containers. Because the problem now is with the soup kitchen, the meal center is able to provide them food, but it’s a different format they are picking up curbside and so the amount of food that we’re getting actually a lot less. Toilet paper and paper towels and tissues we know are hard to get, but if you happen to have extras, they are looking for those especially the small packets of tissues, baby wipes and cleaning wipes. Shampoo, like you get at the hotel, if you have stayed hotel recently and you grabbed the shampoo and bars of soap, they’re looking for things like that as well. And they’re so appreciative of everything that people have done.

Items can be dropped off at 170 Flanders Road in Niantic in front of Zen and Now.