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Yoga Shown to Improve Mood and Reduce Anxiety


Many of those who practice yoga swear by its many mental health benefits, including an increase in overall wellbeing and reduced stress levels.

A study recently published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine has shown that yoga’s positive effect on anxiety levels and mood may be because it increases GABA levels in the brain.

GABA - gamma-aminobutyric acid – is a brain chemical that plays a role in the regulation of nerve activity. Previous research has shown that GABA activity is lower in individuals who have anxiety disorders or mood disorders, such as depression. They are often prescribed medications that boost GABA activity.

The study, led by Chris Streeter, MD, from the School of Medicine at Boston University in Massachusetts, showed that GABA levels increased following a yoga session. A reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood were associated with this increase in GABA activity. According to the researchers, yoga exercises can stimulate the part of the brain that increases GABA levels.

This study establishes a scientific basis for the positive mental effects of yoga. It may also help scientists in their search for new treatments for depression that don't involve medication.

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