From Ash to Gold: Danielle Montague.
Meet Danielle: yogi, student, self-proclaimed busybody. Danielle & I had the opportunity to talk about mediation & mental health, particularly in the Black community. Check out what she had to say.
Tell us a little about yourself. My name is Danielle Montague – I am 31 years old living in Danville, Virginia. I am a program coordinator for Danville Parks & Recreation, a yoga instructor, a fellow with Danville Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce & a doctoral student. I am also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
When did your journey with meditation & yoga begin? My yoga journey started when I was a senior in high school. My dance teacher began teaching yoga for mental clarity & of course for the stretching & strength. It was the first time that I was fully & completely relaxed. The meditation didn't start until after I graduated from Norfolk State University. My curiosity in meditating grew after a conversation with a coworker.
How does mediation affect mental health? For me, meditation reminds me it is okay to slow down & to be in the present. It also has helped me in the middle of panic attacks to slow my heart rate & come back to reality. Research has shown that meditation can reduce blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety & the symptoms of anxiety & depression. Meditation helps people to become more self-aware. The biggest part for me is staying, enjoying, & showing gratitude for the moment. Many people believe that meditation is the freedom of thoughts, but it's really to help control your thoughts. Recognizing that the thoughts are there but not creating scenarios or deep diving into them.
Why do you think mediation is effective, particularly in the Black community? Meditation is effective in the Black community because we live in a constant state of stress. & stress triggers fight or flight hormones that can contribute to high blood pressure if in a constant state over a period of time. The environment in which many of us live whether it is a professional environment or not there are added pressures that affect our mental health & our physical health. Not only do we deal with added stressors on top of the normal everyday stressors but there are triggers around us everyday that our body reacts to & sometimes we don't even notice because it has become normal.
Meditation can help in managing our mental health. Meditation will help with everyday stressors & help us to reduce the physical symptoms of stress & anxiety. Many of us have high blood pressure not only because of what we eat but because of the fact that we are black dealing with high stress situations on an everyday basis. Meditation will help reduce the hormones that trigger our stress signal in which our blood pressure will decrease.
What tips do you have for folks interested in beginning a yoga or mediation session? For yoga, the tips I have for people is to not to worry if you are flexible or not. (most common question) You do not have to be flexible to start. If your goal in yoga is to become more flexible this is a great place to start. Also, don't worry about being judged in class because I can almost guarantee that nobody is paying attention to you except the instructor to make sure you are moving correctly. Find an instructor that you vibe with. In other words, open your mind & heart to something new. Yoga is not that serious, have fun & don't worry about what other people are doing or saying. & only do what your body allows you to do.
Meditation can begin anywhere. If your mind is like mine & has a hard time slowing down, start with a 2 minute guided meditation & then work your way up. Find an app or instructors that help you to calm your heart rate & whose voice is soothing. When your mind starts to deep dive into your thoughts, start concentrating on your breath
Where can we follow you & attend a class? You can follow me on Instagram at @daniewithluv & on Facebook at Danielle Rae. I teach every Tuesday at the Danville Yoga & Meditation Center at 6pm & every Saturday at Rivercity Fitness at 10am. It is as simple as sliding in my DMs to save your spot. Best in health!