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Mental health is just as important as physical health. Without our mental health our days become a struggle. It can be difficult to get up in the morning and face the day ahead, and it may feel like you are simply surviving each day, rather than living your life.
If you ever feel this way - that every day simply feels difficult, you are not enjoying the things you used to enjoy, and you no longer want to socialize or perhaps even get out of bed in the morning; then you must tell someone.
It is important that the stigma surrounding mental health is broken, that those suffering speak out and get the help they need. Whether it be a family member, a friend, or a doctor, you must let someone know that you are in need of help.
It is a sign of strength to acknowledge that you are struggling. This is the first step to healing and getting on the right track to recovery. Yoga has played a massive part in allowing me to take control of my own mental health, rather than allowing my mental health to control me. Yoga demonstrates a completely non-competitive environment, allowing me to come to my mat, without worrying about anyone else around me, simply my yoga space and how my body is feeling and moving in that moment.
My mat is my personal space, allowing 'ME' time away from the stresses of a busy day and sometimes what feels like a constantly busy life. No matter whether you get on your mat for 5 minutes or 50 minutes, that time can be extremely beneficial and special. Give yourself some time for YOU, whether it be to meditate, to sit, or to simply lie down and breathe, that time out is important for your mental health.
Having battled with my own mental health troubles since my early twenties, it is really important for me to bring awareness of mental health and its importance into my teaching. My classes will always include pranayama (breathing techniques), particularly anuloma viloma (alternate nostril breathing) designed to help calm the mind by deepening and lengthening the breath, as well as balancing the right and left lungs, and the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Overall bringing a sense of calm. This exercise can be extremely useful for those that suffer with anxiety, which can cause shortness of breath and rapid breathing.
Often my classes will also include a short meditation. Meditation is another hugely useful tool to help bring mental clarity and reduce feelings of stress. Meditation can often be most beneficial first thing in the morning, which is why we practice this at the start of each of the early morning classes that I teach.
By meditating at the start of the day, before the mind has become busy, it gives us mental clarity and sets us up for the rest of the day in a clear and focused way. Even just a short 5 minute meditation in the morning can have huge benefits and provide for a content and optimistic day ahead.
Meditating helps to turn on your mental 'spam' filter, by filtering out the internal 'noise' such as negative self-talk and self-doubt. Instead allowing for clear, focused thoughts. Meditation can allow you to flow easily through your day and adapt to change, for example that unexpected traffic jam - no stress, just calmly get on with it!
Remember - mental health is JUST as important as physical health!