Mental Health & Yoga – What’s New?

Today is an extra special day that is close to my heart. Not only is it #WorldMentalHealthDay but my 1-year anniversary of “officially” beginning my passion – teaching yoga! Over the past several years, I had times I was ritually practicing and in turn, conquered milestones I didn’t know were possible. I also have days that my body just wasn’t having it. Just like life. We need to take note of this and do not judge it or find anger, but rather a time to reflect on what has changed in your life. What you can do to bring you back where you want to be. That might be cognizant breathing, patience, support, or even pushing your limits. At the end of the day, yoga & spreading my love is my passion and I firmly believe my purpose. I’d love to hear any experiences you have had through a yoga class and how it affected you.

I cannot put into words the gratitude I have for the CPY community and all their support throughout the year. And this doesn’t mean just the staff, but all my wonderful students as well. As we speak out about mental health, I have had many people tell me that my class was EXACTLY what they needed. Whether that be them having an off day or going through a dark place. I have learned so many amazing stories and have been lucky enough to witness so many people grow – both physically and emotionally. Outside of teaching, yoga has been my rock. Between moves, jobs changes, deaths, betrayal – yoga is always there.

Yoga reminds me of patience when I’m feeling frustrated or gives me hope when I feel completely lost. There have been ups and downs, growth and regression throughout the years and yoga has grounded me; reminded me of the importance of mental health. I can literally tell in my body when I practice if I haven’t been treating it well. I used to get frustrated, but now I just note. I notice the shift and use it as a learning experience for the next steps to take to feel strong and confident again. Whether that be “me” time, changing my diet (game changer), eliminating toxic people in my life, or simply surrendering. Yoga has kept me sane and I can’t confidently say that I would still be here had never crossed my path.

Outside of myself, the stories and connections I am able to be blessed with through teaching is truly something that cannot be explained or created. It is authentic and vulnerable and humbling. What I do because I love really does affect others and that blows my mind. I think its true when people say that once you find your purpose, things just work out. It will still take work – taking constructive feedback, learning your students and their bodies, reading the energy, and noticing how they react to the music. I am not sure if I put in any more or less energy than the “average” yoga teacher, but each month I have almost a ritual:

  • I create an intention/theme
  • Said intention is something I am looking to work on, but that I feel my students could resonate with
  • I create a playlist
  • I add songs I remember that have touched me and actually research songs that represent my theme as a small reminder throughout the class. Even if my students don’t listen to the lyrics, I believe at a minimum of subconscious level it speaks to them
  • I write and I write A LOT
  • I research quotes and stories and use my heart and hand to fill my journal and use these words to weave throughout the class

I was speaking with a friend about art yesterday and how it often is confined to things like painting or music. But I think it’s so much more than that. Art is was fills your heart and you can put out into the world. That raw and real passion that you share. It’s vulnerable, but it’s worth it. It inspires others to find their art. It helps you learn where to grow. And, of course, it fills your heart.

Which leads me into mental health… Mental health is a disease that has affected not only my family but friends as well. Unfortunately, I can count on more than one hand the people I have lost due to mental illness. These people who weren’t able to help, have support, or find their passion. Once you hit that rock bottom, it’s nearly impossible to come back up. I saw a video recently that said something that really resonated with me: “When you take your life, you aren’t getting rid of the pain. You actually spread that pain among all those who knew you”. Now I don’t say that to make the disease selfish, because I firmly believe that it is out of your control once it hits a certain point. However, this is so true. When Gavin left us, you saw just that by the 900+ people that attended his funeral.

Many of the people that hurt the most are those that have more effect on people than you would ever know. You see, we know how you feel and you wouldn’t wish that upon anyone, so we treat people with respect. We listen to them and never judge. We don’t tell them everything will be ok, but we stand by them until it will be. We usually have an eclectic group in their life because of those very reasons.

TRUE connection (not your likes, followers, or comments) is something that is very rare these days. Although we can connect, we feel like no one else can connect with us. Or would want to. We feel burdening and exhausting. That’s why we’re always asking about you. How are you doing; what’s new; how we can help? Not because we don’t legitimately care, but because we refuse to answer those questions ourselves.

Mental Health is gaining traction but is still very stigmatized. That it’s for people that want an excuse for being negative or lazy. That everyone gets stressed and we need to get over it. But until you live in the deep dark mind of a diseased brain, you will never truly understand.

If you are having these deep, dark thoughts I have a few things you can try out if you’re feeling up for:

  1. Clean
    • Even if it’s a quick vacuum or making your bed
  2. Create a Gratitude Journal
    • Write 3 things you’re grateful for every day; even if its just the ability to get out of bed that day
  3. Be Aware of Your Diet
    • What we put in our body affects not only our physical but emotional health as well. Not hungry? Try a spoonful of peanut butter. Can’t stop eating? Try something high in fat and protein to fill you up. Like avocado toast or a handful of nuts.
  4. EXERCISE
    • I can’t stress this enough how important this is. And I know getting out of bed seems impossible, much less exercise. But it’s proven over and over again. Even a 30-minute walk. 10 jumping jacks. Get your heart rate up. Release those endorphins and be GRATEFUL for the beautiful body you have
  5. Do Something That Makes You Laugh
    • This may be a stand-up comedy show, YouTube videos, a book, a friend, or a song. Feel that laughter in your lungs and remember what it’s like to feel that lightness off your chest.
  6. Get Help
    • Therapy is another thing that is overly-stigmatized in our society. You don’t have to be through hell and back or have a traumatic event happen to see a therapist. Therapists are literally paid to listen and help you. You don’t have to go on your first day and tell them all your problems. Just go in with an open mind, try to see them as a friend and a person that you can talk about yourself and your problems with for an hour without any guilt. After all, you are paying them!

All in all, remember you are cared about and loved even though you feel more like a burden than anything. I PROMISE you – you’re doing no one a favor by leaving us. The scary part is that there are mental health diseases that take over the logical aspect of the brain so much that that belief and choice is completely out the window. If this is the case, just take a moment and put your hand on your heart. You feel that beating? You feel that breath? You are ALIVE that is amazing. And you are made of the same things that the stars, flowers, sunsets, and ocean are made of.

You are unique and amazing and perfect in your way. Please believe that. Please reach out to someone – anyone; even if it’s me. Ask for help. You’re not burdening and anyone that tells you that you are is someone you don’t need in your life. As you wait for that light to come back, hold on to these truths as tightly as you can. Because you deserve this life and the world quite literally won’t be the same without you.

In Love & Light,

Lauren

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My name is Lauren and I am yogi and marketing specialist in my mid-20s living in KC after spending a few years finding myself in SF. I love laughing, teaching, learning, Broad City & Workaholics (I tend to clump them together), cooking, trying new things (sounds cliché, but it's true!), writing, art of any kind, growing, bending (my mind and my body), and most importantly, my friends and family. I created The Loving Lotus as a space for me to unwind and share basically all of the above. I am so happy you made it here and would love to hear your thoughts on my page or just talk over a glass of wine or coffee. Feel free to contact me about either. Or both. 🙂

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