Yoga positively changes brain chemistry thereby improving mental health. For the lasting benefit, however, a single dive may not be enough – according to these findings, regular yoga practice keeps the brain’s happy chemicals intact.
Patients with clinical depression got better after doing yoga. One yoga session lasted 90 minutes, and was done twice or three times a week for 12 weeks. Before and after the 12-week yoga course, depression symptoms were evaluated, and brain scans measured a particular chemical – GABA.
What's in it for me?
Why is this research important for all of us, including the ones who are not depressed? All people need appropriate levels of GABA in there brain to feel well. Speaking in lay terms, GABA is there to calm our brain cells down, so they don’t over-fire and become tired. Not surprisingly, people who suffer from such disorders as depression, anxiety, autism, and addiction have abnormal brain GABA.
Naturally, we all want to keep our GABA levels healthy. How can we do it? One of the most sustainable ways is to practice yoga. Scientists previously theorized that yoga practice improves brain GABA, but few were able to actually measure it. The new study just published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine was able to measure brain GABA in people after yoga.
After 12 weeks of yoga practice, depression symptoms significantly improved, which means that even clinically depressed patients improved their life outlook and began to feel happier after consistent yoga practice. These behavioral outcome was supported by the brain scans: the levels of GABA increased after the 12-week yoga regimen. Notably, drugs that are effective against symptoms of depression and anxiety act by improving GABA signaling in the brain, as well. Interestingly, yoga-induced changes in brain GABA lasted for up to four days after a singe practice. After eight days post-practice, GABA levels were back to their initial, pre-yoga state.
Can I improve my brain GABA levels, too?
Yes! Please reach out if you need help finding two to three times per week for a consistent yoga practice. I guarantee your state of being will change for the better after even a month of regular yoga practice, yet alone 12 weeks. Give it a try - what do you have to lose?!