Whenever I practice yoga I experience a sense of calm elation, so I wasn’t surprised to discover that researchers have found that this ancient practice can help to lift depression and ease anxiety.  The meditative nature of yoga would naturally lend itself to mental and emotional well-being.

The advantages go beyond a shift in energy and appear to directly affect our brain chemistry. In the first study of its kind, Dr. Streeter yoga health chiand her team at the Boston University of Medicine took brain scans of volunteers following one hour of yoga. The scans revealed a significant boost in levels of gamma-amino butyric (GABA) – a neurotransmitter directly tied to mood.

Low levels of this neurotransmitter are associated with both anxiety and depression. In the participants who practiced yoga there was a 27% increase in GABA. No such change was seen in the control group who read during the same hour.

The style of yoga seemed to have no impact on the results with participants practicing hatha, ashtanga, bikram, vinyasa, and kripalu. This has led Dr. Streeter to believe that other mind-body practices such as T’ai Chi may have a similar affect.

In previous articles I have discussed some other benefits of yoga, including weight loss, greater mind-body awareness and the ability to help alleviate migraines. And more positive news keeps pouring in. Why not give it a try?

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