The Purpose of Yoga: Solutions for Depression

solutions for depressionBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

Can Yoga give us any solutions for depression?  Coping with depression is not easy, and severe depression is truly a tough road to travel. Yet, Yoga training contains many alternative methods to lift your spirits beside Laughter Yoga. Hatha Yoga has many aspects, which will aid anyone in times of depression. A Yoga teacher is not a substitute for a psychiatrist, but Yogic practices are beneficial for a holistic approach to mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health. If anyone wants to find proper solutions for depression, it’s important to consult with a professional regarding the cause and treatment. Life and the mind are complicated, which means this path might not be a straight one.


Identifying the Cause and Type

There are many types and causes of depression. This is one more reason why professional opinions are extremely important. If we spend hours, days, or weeks, trying to self-diagnose and self-treat our symptoms on reputable web sites, we might get lucky and find the best treatment, but we could save a lot of time and agony by sitting down with a professional. If you sat down with a room of psychiatrists, they would tell you that there is some trial and error in cases where the cause of depression is unknown. Now, most people who self-treat will often try methods such as: Drinking alcohol and taking random drugs, which complicates constructive treatment.

Medication as an Option

Medication is still the most popular option and form of treatment today, but it is often a bridge to make a healthy comeback, while participating in healthy lifestyle changes. Due to the side effects and problems with addiction, medication has also taken a hit in credibility for a longterm strategy. Most counselors will guide you toward healthier solutions for depression. Some patients have chemical imbalances, which can be a factor in the time needed for medication to help a patient. These are decisions that require honest discussions with a medical professional qualified to treat depression.


Mind and Body Exercise

One way to lift your spirits is to practice asanas, which will raise your endorphin levels. Endorphins are hormone-like substances. Endorphins naturally occur, within your body, containing amino acids, which attach to receptors, and stop pain signals to the brain.  Chocolate could also raise your endorphin levels, but chocolate should be consumed in moderation. Otherwise, over consumption of chocolate, which contains plenty of fat, may result in taking on the shape of a truffle. Well, I confess dark chocolate in moderate amounts makes me happy, but Yoga, walking, Tai Chi, and Qigong are extremely helpful in making progress toward improved mental health.

Yoga as an Adjunct Treatment

Attending regular classes is one of many natural solutions for depression and will keep your mind, body, emotions, and spirit, occupied, while doing constructive tasks. This will draw the positive energy of your class into your being. If you cannot find a Yoga class with the level of positive energy you desire, keep looking because there are many different types of Yoga, which contain solutions for depression. The ideal class should completely immerse your mind within the experience.


Social Support and Activity

The socialization factor, which occurs before, during, and after a Yoga class, will also take your mind off your problems. Many people benefit emotionally through social activities. The entire structure of a class allows you to purge negative energy from the core of your being.  If you feel depressed often, self-analysis may not be one of your best solutions for depression. Your therapist, close friends, and family will most likely be your best sounding boards. It is very unhealthy to keep your emotions locked up.

Letting Pain Go

We humans carry far too much emotional baggage. Therefore, you may have to allow yourself to cry. Believe me – it is not comfortable for any of us to cry, so you may want some solitary time to purge your body and mind by crying. When we lose a loved one, most of us cannot stop crying. Regardless of the problem, crying is a temporary release. We cannot cry forever, but crying can help.  In Bhakti (Union by devotion to God), we learn to open the connection to God. There are sectarian Yoga classes for every religion on earth. Regardless of your particular religion – prayer, devotion to God, and giving to others, will help you find solutions for depression.


Changing Your Point of View

When you feel sorry for yourself, look at the poor, and see what you can do to help. Even if all you can give is your time, you are helping someone who needs it. You will suddenly feel better because your acts of kindness are appreciated.  You can visit a temple, shrine, church, mosque, synagogue, or Holy Ground, to realize how you might be able to help others. Helping others is one of the best solutions for depression and one of the most uplifting tasks you will ever do, because you will feel self-worth and gratification.

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