Yoga relieves the symptoms of clinical depression!

Increasing evidence indicates that regular practice of yoga is effective in reducing stress and its effects and even appears to relieve the symptoms of clinical depression.  Researchers have found that three sessions of the exercise a week can help fight off depression as it boosts levels of a chemical in the brain which is essential for a sound and relaxed mind.

Scientists found that the levels of the amino acid GABA are much higher in those that carry out yoga than those do the equivalent of a similarly strenuous exercise such as walking.  The chemical, GABA, is essential to the function of brain and central nervous system and which helps promote a state of calm within the body.  Low GABA levels are associated with depression and other widespread anxiety disorders.

Scientists from the Boston University School of Medicine, USA, spent 12 weeks monitoring two groups of healthy individuals, half of whom walked for three hours each week, while the other half spent the same time doing yoga.  Participants brains were scanned before and after the study using magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imaging to measure GABA levels, while they were also asked questions about their psychological wellbeing throughout the study.

Those who did yoga reported lower levels of anxiety and increases in their mood than the walkers. Professor Chris Streeter said yoga participants increased feeling of wellbeing was associated with GABA levels.

Earlier, in 2007 researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School looked at changes in levels of GABA in the brains of experienced yoga practitioners following 60 minutes of yoga practice compared to levels of GABA in the brains of control subjects who completed a 60 minute reading session. The study revealed GABA increased by 27 per cent in the yoga practitioners while it did not change in the reading group.  The researchers concluded that yoga could potentially help in conditions that involve abnormally low levels of GABA, including depression and anxiety.

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