How Kundalini Yoga and Mantra Meditation benefit mental health

Most of us understand that mental health is hugely important and it’s finally getting the recognition it deserves. Because it seems to have taken so long for mainstream doctors to accept this fact it seems the general population is taking time to catch up as well. My goal is to bring an easy-to-understand explanation of how taking responsibility for the mind, body, spirit connection with purposeful action can help mental health and their whole being.

It’s already proven that moving the body increases endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin and all the feel-good hormones! I understand those with depression often find it hard to exercise or do yoga. Even the words can be triggering. Many people convince themselves they can’t do yoga. “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” To me that’s like saying. “I’m just too dirty to take a bath.” It doesn’t make any sense! You do yoga to increase flexibility, mobility, and balance.

I believe that everybody has a yoga body. The type of yoga I love the most is Kundalini yoga because it is accessible to most everyone. It focuses on spinal health and flexibility in the spine. If you think about it, all the most important functions we need to live run through the spinal column. Vital nerves, arteries and spinal fluid need to flow freely to have the brain and body function at their best.

This type of yoga also does a great job incorporating mindfulness into each practice. This will help clients be more in their body and less in the headspace. I love to add mindful guided meditation directed towards bringing awareness to the energy and feelings of the body. When you are aware of how you feel you take your power back to transform lower emotions into better feeling ones.

My teaching style explains why we are doing what we are doing so that the students understand the benefits of each movement. I often speak about the science of chakra system which are the energy centers in the body connected to organs, functions, meridians, feelings, and emotions. The Kundalini Kriyas are often designed to open the energetic flow of the chakras.

For example, a client with depression may have a difficult time with the lower chakra system.  The root chakra is connected to feelings of safety and security. It is where the fight or flight instincts for survival are stored. Right above that is the sacral Chakra where we hold our willpower, ambition, creativity, sexuality, and ability to persist. The next chakra is the solar plexus in the area above the belly button and that is where self-esteem and personality live.

If these chakras are out of balance a person can become lethargic and sometimes even connected to overeating because they are trying to ground themselves with the feeling of being full. A Kundalini set for depression will focus on a gentle practice that is able to bring mindfulness into their bodies while increasing energy flow. I teach folks how to activate the energy in the body by stimulating the chakras and the systems connected to them with movement most everyone can do.

Even if you have limited mobility, closing your eyes and visualizing yourself doing the posture/practice will give your brain some of the same benefits as if you were doing them physically! The mind, body, spirit connection is quite magical!

We will address the whole body and use pranayama breathing to increase the heart rate and energy flow. One of the best ways to get out of the head and into the body is to focus on the breath. Another way to address the intimidation of ‘meditation’ is to offer mantra meditation songs with hand mudras designed for specific topic we are working on. In these mantra meditations we use a variety of specific instructions for the body and the mind to keep focused.

This takes the pressure off just lying there and not thinking! I don’t know about you but lying there trying not to think has the opposite effect for me. That’s perfect conditions for a whole lot of monkey mind to get going!

Which is why the instructions for mantra meditation help me get in the zone and out of my head. It also has health benefits such as applying Root lock/Muladhara Bonda which means we squeeze the perineum, sex organs and pelvic bowl muscles pulling them up and in holding the root lock! This is very healthy to do with both women and men as we age.

Next, we do hand mudras designed to stimulate meridians connected to the body’s internal systems. We then close the eyes and bring our gaze to the third eye, the space where the intuition lives. Not only does the third eye gaze connect to intuition, but it also puts pressure on the optic nerve connected to the pituitary gland.

The pituitary is the master gland that stimulates the feel-good hormones! We do all these things at the same time we chant and sing mantra songs. Singing stimulates the vagus nerve, one of the biggest nerves in the body and the only one that connects the gut to the brain.  We all know by now how gut health greatly affects brain function. Singing, chanting, humming are all wonderful ways to stimulate the vagus nerve!

Most of the practices will focus on bringing the chakras into alignment and increasing energy inside the body in different ways. It is designed to increase flow and flexibility in the spinal column where all the nerves and spinal fluid need to flow freely for optimal brain health. The more flow you have going to the brain the better the brain is going to function and the better you feel. My yoga teacher Jeanie O’Neill often reiterated that you are only as young as your spine is supple. Makes a lot of sense if you think about it!

The practice for anxiety may be a little more physical and pull in the breath of fire to burn off some of the excess energy in the chakras causing anxiousness. The practice of guided meditation or Yoga Nidra will help bring the consciousness of the mind inside the body. This practice truly helps a person feel their energy inside the body and teaches them how to check in with what’s going on inside. Allowing each yogi to better understand how to help themselves feel better in their body. Yoga Nidra is proven to calm the nervous system while affecting the theta and beta waves of the brain.

Pulling this all together means when the body feels good, the brain feels better, and that can bring you to a peaceful state of being. Mind, body, spirit connection is not just a popular phrase. It is a real and true part of living your best life. If one of these areas is out of balance so are the rest of them. It is why I love Kundalini Yoga and Kriya meditations so much. It truly addresses all the areas we need to feel good about ourselves.

Yoga is not a religion. It is personal mind, body, and spirit practice. When I speak of connecting to spirit. I mean we are connecting to our own higher energy. If you choose to bring your preferred religion into your practice that is okay too. However, when I teach, we usually talk about connecting to our own higher self. Which is basically the part of you that knows better. The part of your spirit that is the inner voice of love, the pure soul inside of you.

Talking with a trained mental health practitioner can help guide you in the direction of where you need to heal. It can shine a light on the area you most need to focus on to feel better. Yet deep down we know that nobody can heal you but you.

Getting to know yourself better means quieting the mind, checking in with the spirit to see what it is you truly need. Then trust yourself to be able to make those changes by taking action towards healing.

The daily practice of Kundalini yoga helps facilitate self-awareness, physical movement, and connection to yourself that truly benefits mental health. It has been a life changing experience for me, and I had to share with you!

Much love and many blessings,

Emy Minzel

CMT – 500RYT

Spirit River Yoga and Massage LLC

On-Line Classes available!

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What you should know about Energetic Emotional Release

Did you know yoga moves more than just your body?!

As a yogi teacher and massage therapist I have come to see and believe that we hold and store emotions in our physical body. Stress shows in headaches just at the base of the scull, sometimes we lose hair or have digestive issues. Tension, worry and anxiety are often stored in the gut which is part of the solar plexus chakra and moves up to the heart chakra and upper shoulders.

If we are being stubborn and inflexible in life, we sometimes have neck and shoulder pain. This manifests into having low range of motion in the neck from not being able to see another point of view. We hold fear in our psoas and low back, guilt in the middle back and anger in our hearts. The burn of anger radiates from the heart through the upper back and shoulders.

When tragedy happens like losing a loved one or an unexpected loss of a job this affects our security related to the root chakra and often the foundation of our bodies, the feet. When we fear moving forward in life our knees take a hit and when we just can’t figure out how to get enjoyment out of life, we store misery in our hips.

It’s quite intriguing to me how often we dismiss our bodies signals as nothing more than a physical injury. Yet even accidents like falling are a metaphysical symptom of not valuing ourselves or not feeling valued so we are careless and absent minded and that causes accidents.

Louise Hay has a book called Heal Yourself. It has mantras that relate to the reasons behind our physical symptoms. Each time I have a seemingly ‘random’ pain or ailment I check this book to see if it is real… Or is it a physical manifestation of my inner emotion? In yoga we say that Emotions are Energy in motion. If we are stuck on one or more painful emotion, our body will kindly hold it for us!

Sometimes during or after Yoga practice or body work, we have an emotional release. When we move certain parts of the body that have been storing our emotions it can be spontaneous. Often, we have already been feeling pain or tension in those same areas of our neck, back, knees, ect… for years! During regular practice we inadvertently move those emotions up and out! It sounds intensely therapeutic, and truly is!!!

However, it usually comes out in very messy emotional way like a crying break down or eruption of uncharacteristic anger or outburst so you can allow those emotions to break through. There is more room out than in, so it its best to let it all come out where you can see them and heal them.

I feel compelled to write and tell you of this phenomenon because it just recently happened to me again after a wonderful yoga set, I called Heart Openers. It’s funny to me that I really enjoyed creating and teaching this class! And yet, four hours after that practice I was huddled under the covers in my bed bawling my eyeballs out because I had moved those stuck emotions in my heart with a powerful heart opening yoga practice.

I laid there allowing myself to really feel all the icky emotions I was storing and weighing heavy on my heart. I didn’t hold back, I used a hundred Kleenexes and dehydrated myself allowing the abundant tears to fall freely. Finally, I fell asleep and allowed myself to rest after my big emotional purge.

When I woke up, I felt better. The emotions that I kept stuffed had dissipated and I felt lighter. It took me a few hours to realize what had just happened. Since my breakdown seemingly came out of nowhere being pushed over the edge by a small minor inconvenience. It was clear to me it was my body purging in uncontrollable emotional release.

Now this Emotional Release phenomenon does not happen after every yoga practice or massage! LOL So don’t fret. It happens when your body is ready to release what no longer serves it. It is an energetic letting go of all those stuffed down emotions so the body can move into healing.

There are times I’ve had massage clients crying on the table for these same reasons. I felt honored to be able to hold space for them while they allow those messy emotions go. I felt that it was important to remind people that this can and does happen and that it is okay to let it out. It is a step towards allowing healing in the mind, body, and spirit.

This is why, self-care techniques like yoga and massage therapy are so important to incorporate into your life. I’ve come to believe our bodies are quite magical! Our bodies are always communicating and it’s up to us to take the time to listen to its needs and the nagging aches and pains to see what they are trying to tell us. What emotions do we need to heal and release so we can feel better in our own skin?

I hope this article is helpful in some why so that when it happens to you. You are now able to identify it as the healing opportunity it is. Instead of thinking it’s an out of the blue break down, you will now see that is a therapeutic break through! Which is very healthy and healing to the energetic and emotional body.

So now you know the magic of movement! How cool is that?!

Sending you all so much love and wishing you an abundance of blessings,


Emy Minzel

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Solo Adventure Day two!

It’s six a.m., and I wake up with the dawn, excited for the new day. I clear the sleep from my eyes and set about making coffee. It was overcast and a bit chilly, it also seemed quite windy again even early in the morning. I had a feeling a storm was on the way, so set about my morning duties, grabbing some food, and the most crucial chore on my mind was getting my coffee fix. I tried to ignore the signs of the weather, but I know when it’s time to retreat.


Startled by the Thunder God’s and some warning raindrops that sent a firm signal to get to it; I knew I had better hurry and put things away to stay dry. I quickly tucked my camp chair under the canoe, filled my coffee thermos, and headed for the tent. Just as it started pouring hard lighting lit up the tent feeling way to close for comfort.


Zipping the rainfly down tight to prevent the water from coming in, but it also prevented me from seeing out. Sometimes not knowing is worse than anything! For hours I was stuck in the tent while Mother Nature reminded me who was in charge here. As if I needed reminding. Luckily even though cell service was very spotty, I was somehow able to make a call to my husband so he could check the weather for me.


He had said that it was going to be a couple hours be for it passed so I might as well get comfortable. Also, he let me know to expect another spot of rain that afternoon. This gave me plenty of time to think, lying in bed with my thoughts. This was when it occurred to me that I should make some videos of my solo adventure to share with our friends on our Adventure Sisters Facebook community. I recorded myself and my thoughts, and it felt comforting like I was able to talk to someone while I was a bit scared and wishing for company.


The storm passed without incident, thank goodness, and I emerged from the tent ready to do some exploring. It was crazy how just an hour before the wind was howling and now the calm after the storm turned the water as still as glass. Since I had nobody to entertain but myself, I took this opportunity to go for a paddle and explore Slim Lake scenery. It was a nice break in the day that allowed me to keep my mind and body active.

I paddled for about an hour or more until the wind changed directions and started to pick up again. The lake began to sway with force, and I turned the canoe around to head back to the safety of my campsite. When I got back to the site, all I had to do was wait for the rain to come, so I made lunch and sat back to relax. Interestingly, I was starting to get antsy, I felt that I was over the rain, but there was nothing I could do about that!


Inevitably it started to sprinkle then come down harder, and I had to retreat to the tent yet again. This time I took the opportunity to journal and gave myself a tarot card reading. When there are no distractions, it’s easy to get into the flow of creativity, and I began to write and write. Even after the storm had passed, I felt moved to keep writing as I sat out and watched the scenery sitting close to the water on the boulder point.


I have always thought that the best conversations happen on rainy days, it seems that it is true when I am alone as well. The quiet time allowed me to hear myself, to listen to my gut and time to digest what it is trying to say. This was why I went out to the Boundary Waters in the first place. To reconnect with myself, and this is what happened.


I was missing the comfort of my family. The BWCA reminded me just how important they are when I am going through the metaphorical storms in my life. We tend to retreat into who and what is comfortable when we are scared or confused, and this experience reminded me not to take my blessings of my great family for granted.


Some days it’s easy to let the dumb annoyances of life get in between relationships and happiness. This time alone helped to take responsibility to catch those times when I get back home. There is real spiritual healing that happens when I go into the vastness of the Boundary Waters. Every trip I make changes me deep inside and for the better. I come home with a new appreciation for my life, tending to see situations from a different perspective that I had not seen before.


Inevitably I miss the solitude and the healing power of the big water and vast forests. The slow time of nature and quite relaxed pace of living isn’t so easy to bring home with you. There is lots of noise in the world we’ve come to know, most of it is just that, noise. I miss the realness of just being. I find it hard to keep centered when I return to home from the BWCA.


My wish is to embody that Zen flow of poignant peace folding into myself so securely to be mine forever. If I were able to do bottle that feeling of serenity, I would be rich! What I can do is continue to go to the places and do the things that allow this feeling as much as possible. To make sure I do the things that feed my soul is just as important as caring for my body or my work.


Mind, body, spirit is all of me, neither more important than the other. It’s up to me to take care of all three. As day two ended with clear skies, a peaceful campfire, and a nightcap, it was clear to me this solo excursion into the wild was precisely what I needed to do so. I felt the peace I had been craving, I felt the gratitude for just being, I was genuinely relaxed and connected. Yes. This is the stuff that helps make life great.

Good night friends.

I hope my words help you or even allow for a short escape while you envision peace and serene solitude. Thank you for sharing my journey with me.


Sending joy and blessings to you,

Love, Emy Minzel ~ Adventure Sister


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Stacy Crep ~ Adventure Sister



Finding a balance ~

Finding a few small steps towards finding balance ~

Do you ever have a hard time keeping balance in your life? I think most people do at various times. I know some days I do much better than other days but giving and receiving are part of how the world works. It’s an energetic exchange that applies to the natural world and what you give out should be coming back to you. Very similar to how we go to work; then we get a paycheck. Most of us would not go to work every day if we were not getting something of value in return, right?

I’ll give you an example; Stacy and I have decided to dedicate ourselves to a 40-day Nabhi Kriya Kundalini Yoga practice as part of our self-healing journey. It is a spiritual and physical challenge to make our well-being a priority and it also needs to be done every single day, for 40 days. Some days we breeze through easy peasy. Other days we put it off until the last minute. Last Friday I squeaked it in just before midnight!

As part of this Yoga routine, they give you about a 4-minute rest period call Savasana/Corse pose. I have noticed, that when I am super busy with life things, I get a bit antsy when laying there. Thinking. “okay. Is this part over yet? I have things to do.” The routine gives you this time to rest and reflect as it is part of the spiritual teaching and holds a significant purpose; that is why they put it in the practice.

Nabhi Kriya is almost like an aerobic exercise and feels like a workout. I truly enjoy how it makes me feel and the energy it gives me. But I seem to have this urge to deny myself the ‘resting’ part of the practice, when I have really earned it! I literally feel my brain wanting to reject receiving what it is my body/mind/spirit needs, after this physical practice and for what?!

This is not the natural way of the world. To give and to receive in perfect balance is the way it is supposed to work. I am not doing myself any favors by thinking I don’t have the time or deserve the rest my body needs after this workout. I make myself lay and finish the Savasana, clearly, I realize I must train my brain to allow myself to relax.

This is probably why lots of people think they are not ‘good’ at meditating. It’s our overactive minds keeping us from peace. It is our job to control our thoughts and actions. If we train ourselves to exercise every day for 40 days, we sure should be able to meditate or stay in a state of relaxation for 5 minutes a day!

Doing this practice has led to a huge self-realization that I have not been allowing myself to receive the rest/relaxation/good feelings, that I know in my heart, I have ‘earned’ after doing the work! Do you know how this hidden habit I formed, can block my progress in everyday life?! Holy moly kids! This is a breakthrough discovery!

The realization that I do not easily allow myself to receive, has led me to act on that imbalance in all areas of my life. There is a mantra I like to use that serves as a reminder for my brain. “I take in life in perfect balance.” It is a verbal queue to let me allow myself to give and receive what it is I need.

It may even be a bit of human nature to martyr. That is because it is easier to give than receive for some people. When we see people who live like this, it’s easy to see it is not a healthy way to live. You also must work on filling your own cup.

We are not made to give and give until there is nothing left. It’s not the way the universe is supposed to work! There are plenty of us who have this habit and we don’t even see it. Now that my eyes have been opened, I will give you an example of how I made steps to correct it.

Just this weekend we had plans to have Stacy and Marty come over to play cards and have dinner. Stacy and I usually just make appetizers and don’t make a fuss about food for the evenings we gather to do this, just keep things simple. However, this weekend I wanted to make dinner for them because it was Marty’s birthday and I wanted to do something kind for my friends.

When I told Stacy what I was planning she said. “You don’t have to do that!”

I said. “I know! But cooking is how I show love, so please let me!” She obliged and I was thankful for her allowing me to share love with my dear friends.

It turned out that Marty came down with the stomach bug and they could not come for cards and dinner. “Bummer!” but totally understandable. I was thankful they didn’t come and share it! Yet, I had made plans to make cheesecake since it was a special birthday occasion. I found myself thinking, “Well, I don’t need to make this cheesecake, do I?”

Then I thought on it some more… I was denying myself and my husband the desert just because we weren’t having company? This is a silly way to think! We deserve dessert too, don’t you think? (Heck ya!)

So, I made the cheesecake and the dinner we had intended. Guess what?! They were both delicious! There was no need to deny myself after the work of shopping, cooking, cleaning and preparing throughout the day. Which is exactly what I normally would have done, if I had not recognized my own behavior because of this Nahbi Kriya practice!

It is funny how the Universe puts lessons inside of lessons for me. I have enjoyed learning my lessons through Joy and sharing them with others in hopes of helping them too! Here are some other ways I will work on allowing myself to give and receive, in balance, as it should be.

  1. When I purchase new clothes or shoes; I will promise myself to donate or discard the same number of items from my wardrobe that I no longer like or wear.
  2. When I am thanked or praised by another I will say ‘thank you’ instead of dismissing the compliment. I will allow myself to receive kindness instead of brushing it off. I will freely give praise and kindness to others as well.
  3. When I have an abundance of something, I will share it with others. I will allow others to share their abundance with me! This usually happens regularly with friends that garden and is a joyous experience for all involved!
  4. In a bigger picture kind of way, I am going to make a big effort to donate blood once a month. If I want a good life, wouldn’t it be a cool way to pay it forward by donating blood that gives life?! I like to think so.
  5. After a work week, I will do better at scheduling time to play and relax on the weekends; doing things that bring me joy. I tend to want to use the weekend time to ‘get things done’ instead of recuperating for the next week to come. I will schedule time and make plans to live, laugh and love! Plus, there is a reason we call Sunday, the day of rest!

There are lots of ways to practice giving and receiving and some of us are better at one than the other. Yet it is still very important to find balance, for all of us, for a healthy mind, body, spirit life!

What are the habits and intentions you use to bring balance into your life? I’d love to hear your suggestions. They may help more people than you know!

Wishing you the magical soulful healing you need right now to be the best you can be.

With love,

Emy Minzel ~ Adventure Sister


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Stacy Crep ~ Adventure Sister


Lean into it.

I have been writing a lot lately about taking responsibility for the energy we share with the world around us. I talk about sharing joy and being the light of happiness for yourself and others. Yet there are times when it is okay and even imperative to lean into your sadness, anger, frustration or any other feeling that may not resemble the usual sunshiny picture.

Life likes to hand us tough times once in a while. We are only human, and we all have limits of how much stress or BS we can or are willing to take. We have the right to get angry at that insulting thing that someone said. We are justified to be sad over the loss of a loved one or for any reason actually.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is lean into these feelings and let them in.

When we are too busy denying our true feelings; the Universe and the people around you will know. You aren’t doing yourself or anyone else any favors by pretending otherwise. You are not as good of an actor as you may think you are. Fake happiness still vibes at a lower frequency than real joy and I believe you’re unable to fake it for a reason. That reason is that you are supposed to feel your feelings so that you can heal them.

Now, I don’t mean you have to wallow in misery all day, but you know what? If you need a day to just be as miserable as you need and to let your despair come out your eyes and run down your face; then you really should allow yourself the time to do it!

Sad movie Saturday here you come! It can be a therapeutic release to let those tears out!

If we keep denying our hurt; it will not be possible to bring it out into daylight for the healing it needs. It’s okay to say, “You know what? I am sad today. I just don’t feel like my best self. I need time to heal my spirit and it may take a bit.”

Your loved ones will understand your need for space. They will most likely try and help pull you out of your funk though and this may work for you. You may decide to let them try and help lift your spirits! I know it helps me to get out of the house and hang out with my friends to shake up my routine a bit. My friends and loved ones are a great source of joy.

I just wanted to remind you that it is always okay to feel all your feelings! Just be aware that learning to navigate the healing of them is where the work is all yours too. Lean into that anger, sadness or frustration, really feel it, to find the source.

We must heal ourselves and the source of what brought on those feelings. It’s our job to do the work and ask ourselves; “What must I do to change the situation making me feel this way, so those feelings can leave?” If you need help, ask for it. Those around you cannot read minds any better than you can. There are as professionals who will be glad to help you as well.

Go within to dissect the situation and disolve the source of the pain. It’s still our job to take ownership of our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. The best way to do that is to lean into them, look in the mirror, stare yourself in the face and say “I love you. I believe in you. You are going to get through this.”

Give yourself permission to lean into those emotions and then make a choice to lean into the healing as well. Do you need to find forgiveness for yourself or another? Do you need to change thoughts of judgment to thoughts of love and compassion for someone or yourself? It’s up to you to find your truth on where you need healing.

You are worth the investment of time and effort to mend your mind, body and spirit. I am writing this to let you know you are not alone on your down days. There is nothing wrong with you when this happens. You are perfect the way you are, and if you don’t feel so, you have the power to change too.

You matter and I believe in you and love you.

Wishing you the magical soulful healing you need right now to be the best you can be.

With love,

Emy Minzel ~ Adventure Sister


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Stacy Crep ~ Adventure Sister