From axe throwing to zen meditation, we have a lengthy list of antidotes to your Bay Area anxiety

Original 650 Illustration by Andrew Strawder

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times: This is Silicon Valley, the birthplace of modern innovation, technology and making it big. The ideal is glossy, the reality—stressful.

Little surprise then that the region is also highly innovative in its many ways to cure that stress. No, we’re not talking about your typical unwind-at-the-beach notions. These are colorful, immersive and kinda nuts.

So take a deep, deep breath, remember that it’s all gonna be OK and take a look at our picks for the 10 funkiest ways to destress on the Peninsula.

The aftermath of… well, breaking stuff. Photo courtesy of Esteban Holloway.

Break Stuff Bay Area, San Jose

Engaging in some kind of physical activity is a pretty common way of dealing with stress — and while we admire hitting the gym as a coping method, Break Stuff appeals to us in a way that running or weight lifting just… well, doesn’t.

Break Stuff is the brainchild of Esteban Holloway, who said he was struck by the idea after watching a documentary on Japanese culture, which spawned the original concept of “rage rooms.”

“I’ve had people on date nights, families, for birthdays, bachelorette parties and from organizations for troubled youth,” Holloway said, adding that his customers come from all kinds of backgrounds. “People who come in for legit stress — that’s a little bit of an outlier, but I have had people come and break things while literally screaming in the room.”

Anyway, while we’re definitely not recommending you work yourself up into a screaming rage (although Holloway describes the process as “very healthy”), we see this place as the lovechild of a therapy session and a workout class. And it really is open to everyone — children as young as 7 years old have participated, Holloway said.

Here’s the breakdown (no pun intended): You can choose to B.Y.O.B. — bring your own (things to) break, of course — and use Break Stuff’s facilities for $25, or choose from Break Stuff’s varied packages catered to your every stress-relieving need. Options range from the ‘Break Stuff’ package (10 glass items and one medium item for the length of three songs) for $30 to Annihilation (your free aim at two boxes of bottles and three electronic items for 20 minutes) for $75.

Break Stuff San Jose // 115 N. St. 125, San Jose; 408-496-5867

This isn’t something you see every day, folks. (Photo via Lemos Farm’s Instagram).

Goat Yoga at Lemos Farm, Half Moon Bay

There’s been a huge uptick in the popularity of yoga (and alt-yoga) in the past couple years, and its efficacy as a stress-reliever has even been studied and upheld scientifically. We’re lucky to have an abundance of quality yoga studios on the Peninsula, but that variety can make it difficult to choose where and how to best arrive at your mat. That said, we thought we’d highlight a particularly interesting way to practice yoga: with goats!

Lemos Farm in Half Moon Bay offers 45-minute yoga sessions complete with small goats roaming the premises as well as a 15-minute petting zoo session post-practice. Don’t worry if you’re not an experienced yogi (trust us, we’ve tried it ourselves) — the experience is all about not taking the yoga (and yourself) too seriously. Classes are held every weekend with multiple times to choose from and are around $30. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that sometimes the most effective antidotes for stress come in the form of….tiny, adorable goats.

Lemos Farm // 12320 San Mateo Road, Half Moon Bay; 650-726-2342

Scenes from a previous flow led by Downward Drinking Dog. (Photo via Instagram).

Beer Yoga with Downward Drinking Dog

While we’re on the topic of yoga as a stress reliever, here’s another way you can consider perfecting your practice: with a craft beer in hand. Downward Drinking Dog was launched by San Jose residents Lori Thomas and Patrick Santos in the hopes of fostering a sense of community. Thomas said that the two decided to combine their love of event throwing and trying out local breweries with Thomas’s long-time yoga practice. From there, they spread the word, and lo and behold — 38 people showed up at their first event two years ago.

Thomas and Santos say that the emphasis of the event is on community building and hospitality. No previous yoga experience is required and participants are encouraged to grab a beer, either to sip during or after practice.

“The idea is that you’re with like-minded people and challenging yourself, doing something you might not do in a location you probably wouldn’t be doing it in otherwise,” Santos said. “Our sense of community has really been bolstered by these events — that’s the reason we do what we do, and it’s a lot of fun to see really cool people come and then hang out for an hour or two afterwards just enjoying themselves.”

Downward Drinking Dog’s next event is actually yoga and a hike (accompanied by beer, of course) with Sufferfest Beer Co. on March 10. Not to worry, though — if you’re not the hiking kind, they’re hosting a classic practice in honor of St. Patrick’s day a week after that. In short: Buy tickets ahead of time, bring a mat (and maybe a friend), have a beer and chill out. Sounds like the perfect way to relax to us.

Downward Drinking Dog on Facebook

The setup at Balance Float. (Photo via Yelp)

Sensory Deprivation Tanks, at Balance Float RWC

Though sensory deprivation tanks have garnered an almost sci-fi feel in popular culture as of late (Stranger Things, anyone?) the idea behind the tanks is pretty conducive to stress relief. That’s certainly the way that Balance Float in Redwood City sees it — they offer float therapy in sensory deprivation tanks filled with water mixed with Epsom salt. Basically, Balance Float is recreating the water in the Dead Sea so you can float completely effortlessly in one of their tanks. Beyond the physical relief of feeling weightless, float therapy is said to calm both the body and the mind.

An hour-long float is $59, but you can float for up to two hours. For more information , check out Balance Float’s website.

Balance Float // 1922 El Camino Real, Redwood City; 650-260-0003

Axe throwing coaches at the Daly City location. (Photo via Yelp)

Bad Axe Throwing, Daly City

Bad Axe Throwing is an international company with locations all through the United States and Canada. According to Bad Axe’s website, axe throwing is a Canadian “backyard pastime” (we’re not sure how this fits into Canadians’ reputation for being overly nice, but we’re going with it) and luckily for Peninsula residents, there’s a location in Daly City. If you’re in dire straits, there’s no need to make a reservation — just pay 20 bucks for an hour of axe throwing, which we honestly think might be better than therapy. Walk-in hours do change daily, so make sure to check the calendar for updates.

That said, you can also make group reservations (instead of getting into another fight with your housemate about the dishes — just huck some axes around together) and even schedule corporate events (let off some steam about the looming deadline for that big project at work, maybe). More information here.

Bad Axe Throwing // 30 Hill St., Daly City; 888-435-0001

A meditation session at Kannon Do. (Photo via Kannon Do)

Intensive, Day-long Zen Meditation, Mountain View

Meditation can be daunting: just the idea of sitting still and doing nothing for a prolonged period of time is enough to make even the most placid minds a little restless. That said, meditation can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health, and it never hurts to take some time to reflect and reconnect with your inner being if you feel you’re stretched thin. Seeing as higher levels of stress mandate longer meditation times (…maybe don’t quote us on that) Silicon Valley-induced stress levels might just call for an entire day spent meditating — and Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View can help you do just that.

Kannon Do periodically offers day-long sesshin (a Japanese word meaning “touching the heart-mind”) retreats every Saturday. The day runs from 5:30 am until 6 pm — meaning it’s not for the faint of heart. The day, during which participants are asked to maintain total silence, emphasizes practicing mindfulness in even simple tasks, like breathing, eating or walking.

Even though this is all in pursuit of tranquility, it can be a pretty intense experience: first timers are encouraged to attend an instructional session and Oryoki training, which centers around meditative eating, before participating in sesshin.

Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center // 1972 Rock St., Mountain View; 650-903-1935

(Image via Yelp)

Trampoline Park at Sky High Sports

As the ancient saying goes—There’s no ills that a trampoline can’t cure (or something along those lines).

And lucky for Peninsula residents, Sky High Sports has trampoline parks in Burlingame AND Santa Clara. Yes, huge gymnasiums full of not just trampolines, but trampoline walls, too. Even better still, Sky High regularly holds trampoline dodgeball tournaments!

So get vertical (or horizontal), burn calories and have some serious fun, too.

Sky High Sports Burlingame // 1524 Rollins Road, Burlingame; 650-342-5867

Sky High Sports Santa Clara // 2880 Mead Ave., Santa Clara; 408-496-5867

The practice uses a variety of items to produce the sounds necessary to deepen meditative states. (Via Ananda Sound Healing Facebook)

Sound Healing Bath & Pranic Meditation Workshop

If you’re getting back into the health and wellness trend, hear us out: what if your regular (or future) meditation session could be improved simply by immersing your practice in calming audio stimulation?

Sound baths draw upon the idea that sound itself can deepen meditative states; combined with pranic mediation, which focuses on cleansing and redirecting the body’s energy for healing purposes, this workshop is a sure-fire way to alleviate some stress. Sit tight with the sounds of gongs, quartz crystal singing bowls, Tibetan singing bowls (we’re not quite sure what the difference is) drums, chimes and other soothing instrumental sounds.

Ananda Sound Healing has held workshops all over the Peninsula; the next one will be on March 3.

Workshop at the Corinthian House // 250 Budd Ave., Campbell; 408-374-4522

Cuddle Party

Alright, we’ll admit it right out of the gate: This one seems on the more extreme side of the spectrum when it comes to offbeat stress relief. But hey — we’d bet that cuddling with (former?) strangers for three and a half hours is as good a stress reliever as any. Yep, you read that right: this “communication workshop” focuses on boundaries and touch and attendees are encouraged to engage in strictly non-sexual physical touch with each other as part of the curriculum. Cuddle Parties are held all over the country and facilitated by certified Cuddle Party facilitators; this one will be held in early March in Hayward.

Cuddle Party details via Eventbrite

The setup at Game Kastle’s Mountain View location. (Photo via Facebook)

Imaginative excursions at Game Kastle

Just like any self-respecting hobby game store, Game Kastle (in Mountain View & Santa Clara) has shelves upon shelves of board and card games — stock ranges from “classic to esoteric,” according to their website.

If you’re someone who leans more towards the classic end of the spectrum, take a load off and play some Monopoly or Clue — we’re right behind you. Sometimes it’s the simplest things (like a top-tier performance of Chutes and Ladders… not that we’re speaking from experience) that take your mind off what’s going on around you.

That said, sometimes in order to really get away from it all you’ve got to leave behind the regular, physical world for the stuff of fantasy — like, for instance, a good game of Dungeons & Dragons. Busy at work? In a fight with your significant other? Dust off that character sheet and spend some time as your 7th-level Half-Orc Druid (Circle of the Moon, obviously).

Game Kastle also offers a regular tournament schedule as well as open play for a wide roster of games — here’s the full schedule.

Game Kastle // 550 Showers Drive, Suite 1, Mountain View; 650-935-2229

Game Kastle // 1350 Coleman Ave, Santa Clara; 408.243.4263

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Sarah Klearman

East coast transplant working her way through all things Peninsula. On Twitter @SarahKlearman

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