‘Low brain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA are often found in people with depression; SSRIs, electroconvulsive therapy, and now yoga, it seems, can boost GABA. Preliminary research out of the Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard’s McLean Hospital found that healthy subjects who practiced yoga for one hour had a 27 percent increase in levels of GABA compared with a control group that simply sat and read for an hour.’ There is a growing body of research behind yoga significantly improving mood and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
‘While almost any exercise is good for the heart, experts speculate yoga’s meditative component may give it an extra boost by helping to stabilize the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels that, when irritated, contributes to cardiovascular disease. Since the lining is reactive to stress, and meditation can lower stress hormones, yoga may be causing a cascade of events that could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.’ According to several trials yoga can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and help slow atherosclerosis. These are all risk factors in heart disease.
Women who do yoga during and after treatment experience less physical discomfort and stress. In 2007, Duke University scientists reported women had much less pain and felt more energetic and relaxed.
Research at the University of California, San Francisco, found menopausal women taking two months of weekly restorative yoga, had a 30 percent decrease in hot flushes. A study at the University of Illinois found that taking an Iyengar class twice a week boosted energy and mood. They also plus had less physical and sexual discomfort, and a reduction in stress and anxiety.
Chronic Back Pain
The HMO Group Health Cooperative in Seattle compared the effects of
- 12 weekly sessions of yoga
- therapeutic exercises and a handbook on self-care
Photo by Eammon McGoldrick