The Psychological Benefits of Yoga and Meditation

Today there is a strong need to focus on mental health issues in the 21st century era. Mental health historically has been a topic that American society has usually shunned from their life due to inept education. Because American society has advanced in the medical field especially with mental health through psychologically the American people can now be informed and aware of mental illness.

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Within the young adult community, the most common anxiety mood disorder is depression (Kessler, Petukhova, Sampson, Zaslavsky, & Wittchen, 2012). Depression is defined as a mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, to be diagnosed officially with depression the depressive symptoms must be present for at least two weeks (Todd, M., & Teitler, J. 2018). Though any individual can get depression at any age it is more prevalent and starts to emerge in early adulthood. Recent studies have found that depression can be linked to genetics, environment, and psychological factors.

So how can one make depression disappear? In actuality there are multiple way to rid of depression. One could see a medical professional, more than likely a medical doctor that is certified, to obtain a prescription medicine that will make the symptoms go away without any real effort from the individual. Medicine will cause a chemical reaction in the brain to produce more dopamine and serotonin which are neurotransmitters that help the individual essentially, in this case, be happier by releasing the happiness chemical in the brain. Though this quick fix is efficient to clinical therapy, which may cost more and be more time consuming, the effects of the drug may vary from individual to individual as well as the cost of the drug depending on insurance and financial circumstance. Thus, the need for a more affordable and reachable treatment for anyone because, as mentioned earlier, depression is one of the most prevalent mood disorders in America especially for young adults, a demographic who may have limited to no health insurance to cover costs of medications or therapy. So how can any and everyone be able to cure depression in a cost-effective manner? Holistic healthcare practices such as yoga and meditation can respond to depression in an effective manner just as medication or therapy with more connection to the mind, body, and spirit in the individual.

Holistic healthcare can be defined as an approach to life. Rather than focusing on illness or specific parts of the body, this ancient approach to health considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment. In response to depression holistic healthcare practices can actually have a positive effect on the individual as well as treat the depression by redirecting the cognitive responses to depression through a healthier channel that can actually relieve depressive symptoms and respond to the body in a natural innate way for the mind to cope. The benefits of practicing holistically are taking no medicines or drugs, practicing daily exercises or activities that will benefit the individual in innate natural ways for the body in connection to making and building the mind to be healthier and stronger while also attending to the spirit of the individual.

Do not mistake holistic practicing to be a religion. It does not have a certain set of beliefs and morals that people who practice holistic behaviors must abide by. For certain health problems there are different holistic practices one can choose from to help cure or heal the self, but one can opt in or out of any practice willingly without being held to a higher standard besides the standard of the self. The self is the only standard and thing that matters in management and practice of holistic health there are no gods or goddess, no pantheon, or higher power, just the power an acknowledgement of the self. To be whole with the self is something not typically practiced or acknowledged in the American society. This form of care is typically seen in American society as inappropriate and uninformed because of its roots with ancient traditions coming from native roots and other eastern Asian and world roots. With more leeway coming from millennials and fads holistic healthcare is on the verge of becoming more popular and acceptable with the public and the American peoples.

Yoga is a holistic method that can respond appropriately to depression. It is an antient practice from the Eastern Asian culture and must be taught and practiced in a calm relieving manner. Yoga is a practical aid, not a religion. Which is one reason why it falls under the category of a holistic healthcare practice. Yoga is an ancient physical art based on a harmonizing system of development for the body, mind, and spirit, which is the second reason why this practical aid falls under the holistic healthcare model for depression. The continued practice of yoga will lead the individual to a sense of peace and well-being, and also a feeling of being at one with their environment.

This is the obvious benefit of yoga, but through this obvious benefit a proper response to depression is outlined. Depressive symptoms such as: Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities; decreased energy or fatigue, moving or talking more slowly; feeling restless or having trouble sitting still; and difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions are symptoms yoga can address in physical succinct methods and activity that can connect the mind to the body while also tapping into the spirit of the individual who is practicing this technique. This holistic practice can be taught individually or in group classes and tailored to the needs and preferences of different individuals and groups. Yoga can be and is currently used as a type of therapy when treating an individual for an illness that is mental or physical (Manincor, M., Bensoussan, A., Smith, C. A., Barr, K., Schweickle, M., Donoghoe, L., & Fahey, P. 2016).

Meditation is the second holistic method that will be addressed in this literature review and can also respond appropriately to depression. Like yoga mediation is a practical aid not a religion. It takes time and practice to obtain and perfect the technique of meditation not to mention there are different forms of mediation. One may simply think that closing the eyes and focusing on one thought is the only way to meditate when in actuality there are various ways to meditate and show concentration to different environments and thoughts. Concentration is traditionally not taught in school or even in the home. For example, a mother will tell an over active child to sit still, but the problem here is that the child needs to learn how to ease and channel the mind and its thoughts in order to do this. As one gets older we naturalize into keeping still physically in a classroom at school (most people for the most part) but, it is natural for the mind to get unconcentrated from what needs to be attended to by the mind. This could happen at school, at work, or in daily life. Concentration is disrupted, and one has to constantly refocus, this can be stressful task.

Practicing meditation will help the individual regain and build concentration, the flow of thoughts will come as a smooth stream instead of a runny facet, and an awareness of the self will emerge to help heal what is hindering the individual from maintaining a clear strong stable mindset. This will help depression because the mind in depression is what one would view as stuck in a hard place to leave. This hard place can be stagnating and hard to get out of for most people. One may think that their depression is so stagnate that they end their own life not knowing how to leave out of a dark place. Meditation is the start of building a strong mind to counter and leave the hard-dark place the mind wants to remain stagnant in, as a result one can embrace the holistic practice of meditation as their own means of freedom from the dark place they mistake as their power place. The real power comes from the individual overcoming distractions and putting in their own will power to their mind as a power tool out of depression.

Both yoga and meditation will holistically address depression psychologically throughout this literature review. An explanation of methods, depression, yoga, meditation, and benefits from each holistic method will be entailed within this review. It is the intention of this undergraduate college literature review to respond to depression, a mental illness and mood disorder, in a holistic manner for the mind psychologically with yoga and meditation while also connecting the individual to their body and spirit reaching a complete wellness with the self.

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