Over the years, multiple studies have shown that exercise can alleviate anxiety and depression. It has not always been clear which type of exercise produces the most benefit. Practicing yoga may be something to consider.
Recently, a study completed at the Boston University School of Medicine compared the impact of walking vs. yoga on anxiety and depression. The results suggested that the practice of yoga improved mood more effectively than walking.
In this study, the first group practiced yoga for 60 minutes three times weekly for 12 weeks, while the second group of participants did a metabolically similar walking program for the same period of time.
The moods and the level of GABA in the participants’ brains at the beginning and end of the study were assessed by researchers. At the end of the 12 weeks, the subjects who had engaged in yoga had greater improvement in mood, and less anxiety, than the walking group.
A pilot study from Boston University in 2007 showed that a single, one-hour yoga session also resulted in elevated GABA levels in the brain – in fact, GABA levels increased by 27 percent in the yoga group compared with no change in the control group.
Many prescription medications that reduce anxiety or induce sleep, such as the benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Restoril, etc.) and drugs like Ambien, work by increasing GABA levels in the brain. While many people respond to these medications, they are habit-forming and difficult to stop, once you take them on a regular basis.
Practicing yoga is an alternative way to reduce anxiety, and also reduce the need for these habit-forming drugs. At the physical level, yoga and its cleansing practices have proven to be extremely effective for various disorders
The other great thing about yoga is that it provides lots of other healthful benefits – it helps to stretch those tight muscles, it builds strength, and it can increase endurance.
Studies have shown that yoga is also beneficial for many medical conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, chronic back pain, and fibromyalgia. A traditional yoga practice also includes meditation, breathing exercises, and abstaining from harmful behaviors, and all of these contribute to a healthy mind and body as well.
These physical benefits are just a “side effect” of this powerful practice. Yoga will harmonize the mind with the body. This results in real quantum benefits. It is now an open secret that the will of the mind has enabled people to achieve extraordinary physical feats, which proves beyond doubt the mind and body connection.
The meditative practices through yoga help in achieving an emotional balance through detachment. What it means is that meditation creates conditions, where you are not affected by the happenings around you. This in turn creates a remarkable calmness and a positive outlook, which also has tremendous benefits on the physical health of the body
Hitting the yoga mat on a regular basis will help you. It will result in you feeling stronger, more peaceful, and more able to manage whatever stressors might come your way. And yoga is wonderful for teens and children also!