Friday, March 7, 2008

Yoga and Depression

This post is about Yoga and how it can benefit those suffering from depression. I am not against a person seeking the traditional therapies such as psychotherapy and medication, but there are natural alternative therapies that can compliment talk therapy and medications. I did therapy and medication when my depression was severe, and it saved my life.

Now, that my depression has lessened, I feel it can be managed with prayer, yoga, meditation, and holistic medicines. Yoga and meditation can also be combined with traditional therapies until you have your depression under control. Also, possibly through yoga and meditation one can cut back on the medications.

Everyone feels "blue" from time to time, but when depression deepens or persists for a long time, it can suppress your energy for living and make you more vulnerable to disease by dampening the immune system. Depression is sometimes a warning that may help you to protect your mental and physical health. It can be viewed as a signpost, signaling "It’s time for a change.”

Yoga, or "Yog" as it is traditionally called, means "Union with the Divine." It is a science of Self which dates back more than 5,000 years, orginating in India. There is no Eastern spiritual or religious practice that has not been directly or indirectly influenced by this path. The first thing a depressed person stops doing is moving. Regular exercise becomes intolerable.

But Yoga exercise, starting with as few as three poses a day in just a few minutes’ time, coupled with correct breath patterns, can become so pleasant to you that soon you will want to do more and more. The heavy, unmoving feeling of depression will be gone. Yoga exercises put pressure on glands and organs, helping them to produce the soothing, healing chemical balance that is needed to feel well and be well.

Yoga exercises improve circulation, sending invigorating oxygen to your brain and all your muscles. The stretching and strengthening movements flush toxins from the body as well.

Often depression sneaks in slowly, as breathing patterns change from too much sitting at a desk, stress, age, or illness. The deep, invigorating breath techniques of Yoga bring large amounts of fresh oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. Like a spring wind, it blows through the system bringing new light and strength to the unused parts of the body and mind where depression hides.

Complete relaxation and meditation practice show you how to access the strength and power of your inner self for a support system that keeps you going through all the ups and downs of your life. Meditation and yoga poses can help you attack the root cause of depression - the feeling that you can't handle the demands of your life. It tones the nervous system, stimulates circulation, promotes concentration, and energizes your mind and body.

Practice a daily yoga routine that includes 30 minutes of meditation and at least 20 minutes of poses. Yoga stretching exercises help improve blood circulation making it easier to break through the lethargy that often accompanies depression.

Amy Weintraub, author of the bestseller, “Yoga for Depression” also suffered from depression for years. “Yogis have always believed that depression is that separation from our source. Yoga, including postures, breathing exercises and meditation is the science of positive mental health. Practice Yoga regularly and it will strip away the obstacles that separate you from your source. You will begin to recognize your wholeness. Practice Yoga every day and it will change your life. It changed my life and the lives of many of my students.”

Ms. Weintraub, makes it clear she doesn't recommend yoga as a substitute for conventional medical treatment for depression." Yoga is not instead of psychotherapy or medication," she said. "It's in addition."

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