Why Everyone Is Talking About Yoga

By: Jamie Foster

No one who has tried yoga can deny how great they feel after, but why? Instructors insist it combines mind, body, and spirit, which seems gimmicky at first. However, recent research shows that those lofty gurus were right—and here’s why.

Studies have been conducted to find out how practicing yoga consistently effects mental health, and the results found it helps soothe and reduce stress [1] and provides better stress-adaption [2]. So, what makes yoga such an effective de-stressor?

Yoga releases a chemical in the brain called GABA, which helps supress neural activity and is the same compound used in many anti-anxiety medications [3]. In the study, GABA levels increased in subjects who practiced yoga by 27% [4].

Next time you find yourself stressing over work or classes, consider trying some yoga. The benefits show in both mind and body.

[1] Hendron A., McConnell J. W., Re P., Reidinger G., Schweit R. (2014, Oct 20) “Effects of Yoga on Patients in an Adolescent Mental Health Hospital and the Relationship Between Those Effects and the Patients’ Sensory-Processing Patterns” Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 27 175–182. doi: 10.1111/jcap.12090.

[2] Shu-Ling L., Ching-Ya H., Shau-Ping S., Shu-Hui Y. (2015, Jul 28) “Effects of Yoga on Stress, Stress Adaption, and Heart Rate Variability Among Mental Health Professionals—A Randomized Controlled Trial”. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 2015; 12:4, 236–245. doi 10.1111/wvn.12097.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/wvn.12097/abstract

[3] Gray, J. A., & McNaughton, N. (2000). “The Neuropsychology of Anxiety: An Enquiry into the Functions of the Septo-Hippocampal System (2nd ed.). 2-6. New York: Oxford University Press.

[4] Grazioplene R. (2012) “This is Your Brain on Yoga: How regular yoga practice changes brain chemistry and influences well-being.” Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/quilted-science/201209/is-your-brain-yoga

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