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Reality Check: Yoga and Mental Health Awareness

Hi! I am Angela and it is nice to meet you! I am your Yoga Teacher but I am also a mom (human and furry kids), wife, avid traveler, vegan, gardener, water sports enthusiast, military veteran, cook, artist, animal lover, bird watcher and aeronautical fan. I live for the goofy adventures that I get to have daily with my family and love teaching yoga!

My topic today may be a little heavy, but it's extremely important.

FIRST AND FOREMOST, you are awesome, you are here for a purpose, you are loved, this world really needs you here and we are so grateful that you are in our lives. EVERYONE needs to hear this. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY…….AT LEAST ONCE (OR MORE😊!) Tell yourself and tell your loved ones! These are words that I try to tell my family at least once a day. It’s usually met with some eye rolls, giggles and/or joking but I know that they need to hear it.

Recently and somewhat out of the blue, someone whom I love very much had a serious mental health crisis. I had not picked up on the signs, but sometimes we get stuck and hopefully we can all help each other before it's too late. I am beyond blessed that I was given a chance to help this person in time!

I am by no means a therapist, doctor and/or medical professional. But I do know about staying healthy and that includes your mental health. After years of teaching water sports, boot camp, kickboxing, Personal Training, hosting 90-day fitness challenges, running programs, discussing alcohol awareness, offering suggestions and referrals for tobacco cessation programs, addictions, skincare, heart health and more I started taking yoga classes.

I loved it so much that I got my license and started teaching in 2015. I am sure that every teacher says this, but I had the best students ever. They were my original inspiration, dose of Zen, breath of fresh air or however you want to call it. We moved away, but I still think of them to this day.

WARNING, possible trigger alert here: Unfortunately, life tried to break my heart in a thousand directions. If my life were a song, I imagine it would be a country music song (I am guessing here because I don't listen to country music) that told the story of how I lost my first child, lost my closest friend, lost my mom, lost my house and lost my two soul doggies all in less than 10 years. I also “lost”/left yoga because I was teaching when this all started. BUT HONEY, I AM STILL STANDING AND I AM HERE FOR A REASON(S)!

Fast forward to the present. I have the most supportive husband a person could imagine who has gone through all of this with me, the most beautiful rainbow child who I adore and amazing animals who are all a part of my family.

However, this post is about letting you know where I am coming from, but it really is about YOU. This is about YOUR mental health. I teach yoga because of YOU. I have personally witnessed how much healing yoga can provide. There are so many benefits but Mental Health is a big one. Research articles on yoga and mental health have shown that yoga helps with post-traumatic stress disorder, eases depression, lowers anxiety, diffuses anger, reduces stress hormones, creates mental clarity, relieves insomnia, promotes calmness and in general improves overall mental well-being.

I can feel my first daughter with me during every class and my second daughter is usually right there in person. I have dedicated my yoga to primarily teaching kids because it is where my heart lies. Seeing children go through loss and trying to figure out how to express their feelings or cope with BIG emotions really stuck with me. I feel like some of the most important things that they keep throughout life are the ones that they learn when they are young. I am so grateful to be able to teach them simple breathing techniques, coping strategies and ways to calm themselves. I tell them in every class to tell themselves that they are awesome, they are strong, they are kind, they are loved, they are brave and this world really needs them here.

Children are a gift to the world and we are so lucky to have them. They have taught me so much over the years but they need us to help them too. They need you to be here for them. Take time (even 5 minutes can help) to do some calming activities with them that will help you both! Color, paint, blow bubbles, make bracelets, play rock-paper-scissors, garden, cook, bake, play with them at the playground (YES, I’M THAT PARENT-IT’S WORTH EVERY MINUTE😊!), play music with them, fly kites, feed the fish, go bird-watching, read a book with them, paint their nails (I DARE YOU TO LET THEM PAINT YOURS, AGAIN-WORTH IT!), dance with them, make paper airplanes, have sing-offs with them in the car (BONUS if you look at the guy in the car to your left and catch him laughing at you, lol), make family cards for each other…………ENJOY.EVERY.MINUTE.LETTING.THEM.PARTICIPATE (safely of course). MAKE THE TIME!

I still teach adults. They were my very first audience and we need yoga too! Even giving yourself 5-10 minutes to do a quick sun salutation or meditation makes a difference. Going into downward dog or a forward fold puts your heart above your head which quickly calms your nerves and BONUS makes your skin glow because of increasing blood flow and improving blood circulation to the face.

BREATHE…. Always remember, just breathe.

CHECK IN! Life is great but it can be a roller coaster. At some point we ALL need that reminder that you are awesome, you are here for a purpose, you are loved, this world really needs you here and we are so grateful that you are in our lives.

PLEASE, if you are having one of those moments where you need help, GET IT. TELL SOMEONE! If it’s an emergency, call 911. Call a friend, call or text the 988 Lifeline for 24/7, confidential support with suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress.

PLEASE, if you are a caretaker of someone needing help, DON’T IGNORE THE SIGNS! Get help yourself so that you can help your loved one. Call or text 988. Waiting is not an option. Talk to a therapist. They are AMAZING.

Once again, you are awesome, you are here for a purpose, you are loved, this world needs you more than you will ever know and we are so grateful that you are in our lives.

Life is not always easy, but living is BEAUTIFUL.


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