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Yoga and Meditation as Pathways to Mental Health

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On Friday, October 25, the local office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) held a “Lunch and Learn” at its Beautiful Mind Center on Spring Hill Drive. The meeting was free and open to the public and included complimentary pizza and beverages.      

Conducting the one-hour seminar was Danielle Rush, a yoga teacher, personal trainer and fitness and nutrition specialist. Ms. Rush is the owner of RedLife Yoga and Wellness. She emphasized the ways in which yoga, meditation and controlled breathing can reduce pain and stress and give you a sense of overall well-being. It also reduces anxiety, enhances your mood, gives you improved fitness and reduces the risk factors for chronic diseases. 

Ms. Rush brought up the importance of work/life balance and time management in reducing stress, as well. This is important for those with mental health issues and for the friends and family who live and deal with these individuals on a daily basis. Ms. Rush also conducted a brief meditation exercise that emphasized proper breathing and mindfulness. 

Two of the people who attended the “Lunch and Learn” commented on it afterwards. 

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“I didn’t know that yoga and meditation were that simple. I’m going to go home and try it,” stated Rob. 

“I learned more detail on how yoga can impact the reduction of stress. I liked the fact that she used her own life stories in her talk,” remarked Anne. 

Friday’s “Lunch and Learn” was one of several that NAMI holds throughout the year. The organization also conducts free support groups and classes. 

These are all part of its mission: To promote mental health wellness in our community through education, support, advocacy, outreach and empowerment. 

Tina Kinney, Executive Director of NAMI, stated, “In an average year we touch the lives of at least 4,000 people.”

She related a story that was especially significant about a young woman who came with her mom to a support group about three years ago. When she first walked in the door, she turned around and walked out. Then ten minutes later, she changed her mind and came in. She stayed and progressed through her recovery to the point that now she’s in the process of getting her Certified Recovery Peer Specialist state certification. Having peer recovery groups helps people on their road to wellness because they see others who have dealt successfully with mental illness. 

To finance its work, NAMI Hernando has a number of “fun-raising” and fund-raising events throughout the year. In May, the organization has a Kentucky Derby party. 

Coming up soon is the Lip-sync Battle – NAMI’s annual premier fund raiser. Local celebrities will be lip-syncing to popular songs. Each act will be choreographed, as well. Their performances will then be judged by other local celebrities. The public can also vote online for their favorite celebrity. Proceeds will go to support NAMI’s programs. The event will take place November 2. Tickets are $75 for dinner and the show. For more details on this event and information on NAMI go to www.namihernando.org or call 352-684-0004. 


Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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