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Having trouble finding your happy place lately? You might want to look for it in the downward facing dog position. New research from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) suggests that yoga may be better at boosting mood than other forms of exercise.
According to the study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, three one-hour sessions of yoga a week boosted brain levels of the mood-elevating chemical gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) more than three hours of walking did. Low levels of the neurotransmitter GABA are associated with depression and anxiety disorders.
The study, which followed two groups of people over a 12-week period, found that those who did yoga had higher levels of GABA post-workout than those in the walking group. The people who practiced yoga also reported greater improvements in mood and lower anxiety than those who walked for exercise.
We already know that physical activity is good for mood. Research at Duke University has shown that regular activity like brisk walking can alleviate symptoms of depression just as well as antidepressants can. Another study that we reported on recently found that exercising in nature is also great for lifting one’s spirits. Kind of makes you wonder if doing your asanas (yoga poses) outdoors can lead to even more bliss.
According to the yoga study’s lead author Chris Streeter, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM, more research is needed to confirm their findings. However, he calls their results promising, and believes yoga should be considered as a possible therapy for depression and anxiety.
Need help finding a yoga style that suits you? Check out iVillage’s Eight Health Benefits of Yoga.
But first, has practicing yoga helped you manage your moods? Chime in below.
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