Your Brain on Yoga

By: Greater Good Science Center

light painting at gavia pass in the north of italy between alps this was taken with a torch and a t20 AlyvlV
Share with your community
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Take slow, steady breaths, stretch, hold—and relax.

In a recent study, researchers in Boston found that practicing yoga for just one hour may help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The study involved a sample of 19 adult volunteers, eight of whom were regular yoga practitioners and 11 who were not. Each participant completed an hour-long session in the researchers’ lab: The yoga practitioners spent their session doing breathing exercises and yoga poses; the other 11 participants read a book or magazine.

Brain scans measured the levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-amniobutyric (GABA) in each participant immediately before and after their hour-long session. GABA levels are known to be low in people diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Compared to their levels beforehand, those in the yoga group showed significantly higher GABA levels following their session. The readers showed no change in their GABA levels.

But don’t run out to buy a yoga mat just yet—there are still a few gray areas. For one, those in the yoga group had all practiced yoga for at least two hours per week over the previous four months, if not longer. It’s not clear how their prior experience may have factored into the study’s results. Also, the researchers note that they did not examine whether other exercise, such as walking, might produce the same effect.

“It’s quite possible that physical activity [in general] might increase GABA levels,” says lead researcher Chris Streeter, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at Boston University School of Medicine. “We would like to do a study that looks at that.” Streeter and her team next plan to study whether training beginners in yoga affects GABA levels over 12 weeks of instruction.


We share this article with permission. This article originally appeared here on Greater Good Science Center’s blog.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter on the latest industry updates, Rethink happenings, and resources galore. Simply follow the link to the footer and enter your email.

Related Resources

Rethink First, a pioneer and market leader in behavioral and mental health technology, announced today...
Article
To prepare future generations for a diverse and inclusive workplace where employees feel they belong,...

Learn more about Rethink

Take care of your people with Whil’s evidenced-based solutions that support the well-being your entire employee base in all aspect of their lives - from personal to parenting, and professional

Build strong school communities and healthy, safe learning environments for all your students with RethinkEd’s evidence-based strategies and technology solutions across SEL, Special Ed, Behavioral & Training

Start, grow and manage your practice with Rethink’s workflow automation and evidenced-based clinical best practice tools that help you optimize outcomes and operations

Support your members and your provider networks with Rethink’s solutions that support autism care management across your network while offering unique value-added services to your members.

logo rethinkfirst white

Together We’re Powering Potential

Transforming the Behavioral Health landscape requires scalable platforms that address a broad range of mental, emotional, and wellness needs. At Rethink First we are proud to work across the continuum of care to help individuals and the people they care about live healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.

The leading behavioral and mental health enterprise platform to support working parents, caregivers and their families.

Award-winning solutions empower districts and their educators to improve outcomes and wellness for all tiers of students and to build healthy and safe learning environments.

Fully integrated workflow automation and evidenced-based clinical tools help behavioral health organizations optimize outcomes and operations.

Patent-pending clinical solutions and member engagement services streamline autism care management processes and support outcomes for health plans, providers, and members.