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Fighting Physical and Mental Illness with Yoga

nickliaci1 1 / -  
Jul 14, 2018   #1

Good method to treat mental disorders?

Mental illness is one of the leading causes of disability and poor health around the world. It has been discovered that 450 million people suffer from some type of mental illness. In other words one in four people will be affected with mental illness at one point in their lifetime. Although there are many treatments available for patients suffering from mental illness, not everyone has the courage to seek help. With mental illness on the rise, in America, it is critical to find alternative treatments to improve mental and physical health. Recent research shows that Yoga has been linked to improving mental and physical health as well as overall wellbeing. Alternative health remedies such as Yoga have been linked to improvements in mental and physical health due to the positive outcomes that come immediately after one session. Although there are many misconceptions, research shows that practicing Yoga is one of the best forms of physical exercise for mental health.

Although it is not required, it is helpful to have a brief understanding of Yoga and its origin before entering a session. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and was developed in Northern India. Yoga was discovered in a collection of writing known as "The Vedas" which contained songs, mantras and rituals. Yoga was refined into classical yoga years later. This focuses on an "eight limbed path" or in other words eight stages that lead to enlightenment. As years went on, Yoga became more and more popular and was altered to improve more aspects of life. The type of Yoga we see today has been altered and improved so that people can experience an out of mind and body experience. Within the last couple century's people have been drawn to yoga because of the wide variety of benefits it has on overall health and wellbeing.

Yoga has been used to treat mental illness and has been proven to change lives for the better. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 43 million Americans suffer from some type of mental illness. These illnesses may include, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychiatric disorders, and PTSD (Borreli 1). Yoga is most commonly known for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression because of its immediate benefits. University of Pennsylvania conducted a study in 2016 that focused on people who suffer from major depressive disorder that do not respond well to medication. The results of this study show that there is a large decrease in depression and anxiety levels in these patients after practicing a controlled breathing technique form of yoga. This type of Yoga is known as Sudarsgan Kriya and is helpful for patients with anxiety who want to stop taking prescription medications (Borreli 9). Yoga has been proven to calm the nervous system by helping patients realize that they have full control over their body. This allows your brain to relax which leads to a large decrease in depression and anxiety levels.

Not only does Yoga help treat mental health, it is also great physical activity and could be considered moderate exercise. According to the Huffington Post, "Yoga is a spiritual and physical practice that can help people improve their strength, balance and stress levels" (Almendrala 1). The intensity of yoga depends on the person and what they are comfortable doing. It is typical that people start with easier poses that most likely don't count as moderate exercise, however, more intense poses may take more energy making it a better workout. Medical research has been conducted to analyze the effects of yoga and its relation to weight loss. "The study found that both over-weight and normal-weight adults who regularly practiced yoga for at least 4 years were less likely to gain weight than those who did not practice yoga" (Rooke 7). Although Yoga does lead to weight loss, it does NOT come from calorie loss. Weight loss occurs once someone starts practicing Yoga and starts to become aware of mindfulness and mindful eating. People are able to see improvements in stress management and are effective in reducing the likelihood of stress eating (Rooke 10). Practicing Yoga gives you the ability to have increased body awareness, which makes it easier to control eating habits and hunger.

In addition to improving depression and anxiety Yoga has been proven to reduce inflammation and improve heart health. Many people suffer from chronic inflammation which one of the leading causes of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A medical study done in 2015 involved 218 participants. This study was conducted to see if moderate exercise is enough to decrease inflammation in patients. The results showed that individuals who practiced Yoga as well as moderate exercise had dramatically lower levels of inflammatory markers than those who did not practice Yoga. When it comes to heart health, research shows that Yoga may help reduce multiple risk factors that lead to heart disease and heart problems by minimizing stress that could lead to heart disease.

Although the benefits sound amazing, people may still feel discouraged about yoga because they are not flexible. This is definitely a huge misconception and it is important for people to know that it is OK to not be flexible prior to starting Yoga. This is the case for most people and eventually becomes a non-existent problem. Yoga has been proven to enhance flexibility due to the variety of poses and stretches the body endures. It is important to focus on maintaining flexibility in order to avoid injury and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stretching has been linked to making people feel better if they are experiencing headaches or chronic pain. Yoga exercises are designed in order to target areas of the body that aren't stretched normally. It is important to do yoga stretches daily in order to see results in flexibility (Pizer 4).

Many people suffering from insomnia may find that Yoga is the solution. In a recent article I read, insomnia may occur due to anxiety and depression. A 2005 study was conducted on 69 elderly adults. Instructors gave patients a couple of Yoga exercises to try in order to help them fall asleep easier and to prevent them from being sleep deprived. Mostly all of the patients came back saying they fell asleep faster, and felt more rested in the morning. Since yoga exercises have been linked to helping people with insomnia, it is important people are aware of this option so they aren't forced to take sleeping pills. Prescription medication can be dangerous especially for people with insomnia. People become dependent on taking a pill before they go to sleep, which makes it difficult for people to ease off of these sleeping pills. Not only are prescription medications addictive, they have side effects that could eventually lead to further implications (Link 30).

Yoga breathing is a technique that is practiced in order to control breathing. This is also known as Pranayama and is a form of breathing techniques. These breathing exercises have been linked to significant increase in vital capacity. "Vital capacity is a measure of the maximum amount of air that can be expelled from the lungs. It is especially important for those with lung disease, heart problems and asthma" (Link 34). These techniques have also been proven to help people with asthma by building endurance in the lungs and keeping the heart as healthy as possible.

Migraines are another health issue that could be cured or relieved by Yoga. Migraines affect 1 in 7 Americans every year and many of these people can not find relief for these symptoms. "A 2007 study divided 72 patients with migraines into either a yoga therapy or self-care group for three months. Practicing yoga led to reductions in headache intensity, frequency and pain compared to the self-care group. Another study treated 60 patients with migraines using conventional care with or without yoga. Doing yoga resulted in a greater decrease in headache frequency and intensity than conventional care alone. Researchers suggest that doing yoga may help stimulate the vagus nerve, which has been shown to be effective in relieving migraines" (Link 39).

It is evident that Yoga is linked to improvements in almost all aspects of life. In order to really understand how Yoga works it is critical to look into Yoga classes near you so you can experience it hands on. I am someone who suffers from severe anxiety and chronic back pain due to scoliosis. I decided to get into Yoga specifically because of this reason. I immediately experienced pain relief in my back and noticed a dramatic change in my attitude. Simply adding yoga into my daily routine helped me become more organized and balanced. Yoga definitely has immediate effects that trigger the body and brain and it is definitely noticed while performing stretches and poses. Not only do I feel more in line, I also noticed how my anxiety started to slowly decrease while practicing yoga.

Overall, the bottom line is that there have been multiple medical case studies that have been conducted in order to prove that Yoga is beneficial to physical and mental health. Taking an hour out of your day to practice Yoga could make a dramatic impact on your overall wellbeing. It has been proven that yoga is used to improve circulation, flexibility, respiration, as well as energy and incorporating this therapy into your everyday routine could really make an impact on your life. In order to reduce the amount of people who suffer from mental illness it is important we look at yoga as a treatment to this problem. Not only will people with mental illness find relief, more people will be able to live a mindful lifestyle after learning how impactful yoga can be to someone's life.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 14,250 4653  
Jul 15, 2018   #2
Nocholas, it would be better for your essay if you start it from the very start with a reference as to how Yoga has helped you improve your life and then use that discussion to lead into the deeper discussion of the health benefits of Yoga. As a yoga practitioner based on health issues, your research takes on a more interesting tone because you can immediately relate your experiences to the research, and also allow other people who suffer from the same illness an insight as to how Yoga might be able to help them. There is a "but" to this suggestion though.

You are presenting the information about Yoga in terms of mental, rather than physical health. Which makes the presentation of the information about your back pain and how Yoga helped alleviate the pain somewhat misdirected. It would be better, in my opinion, if you redirected your research towards pain alleviation using yoga instead of mental illness. This is because you presented 2 physical ailments rather than mental illnesses in the essay namely, back pain and migraines. These do not classify as mental illnesses and therefore create a deviation in your discussion that cannot connect to the issues of mental health that is helped by yoga. If I were you, I would revise the essay content to concentrate solely on either mental issues or physical health, You don't really transition well into the physical health discussion in your essay because your thesis statement is all about mental health issues and how yoga can help deal with it.

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