Lift your spirits with Yoga
- 6 Months ago
The fact that Yoga is good for the spirit isn’t a stretch anymore. A recent study revealed that practicing Yoga can have the same effect on a chemical in your brain (called a neurotransmitter) involved in depression and anxiety as antidepressants can.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is a non-essential amino acid that your brain needs to function properly. Specifically, it inhibits nerve-cells from over-firing and regulates stress or anxiety messages. It’s your body’s natural tranquillizer which calms you and promotes sleep and relaxation.
It’s not very common to have a deficiency in GABA, but sometimes poor diet, environmental toxins, and other factors cause GABA levels to become depleted or result in a dysfunction in the GABA system. This leaves you feeling anxious, depressed, irritable, or unable to sleep. You may also experience palpitations.
Currently, doctors treat this with medication. But research findings, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, suggest that Yoga can be used to increase the levels of GABA in your brain.
Using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, the researchers compared the GABA levels of eight people before and after one hour of yoga, with 11 people who did no yoga but instead read for an hour. They found a 27% increase in GABA levels in the yoga practitioner group after their session, but no change in the reading group.
The study shows that there's a neurochemical response to the practice of yoga that's similar to neurochemical responses we see when people are treated with antidepressants
Although the benefits of Yoga are widely publicized, this study is the first to provide hard evidence. It is important to note that Yoga should not replace the treatment prescribed by your doctor, but can certainly be used to supplement it.
So go on, stretch and be happy!