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Can Yoga Cure Anxiety?

A great choice for those at work all day on the computer.

by
Helen Smith

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November 5, 2013 - 3:00 pm

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There is an interesting article at Psychology Today on yoga stating :”Evidence that yoga can enhance anxiety-killing neurotransmitters in the brain” (via Amy Alkon):

Why does yoga help and a flood of alcohol hurt? Well, the money is on GABA. Gamma-aminobutryic acid is a neurotransmitter I’ve made brief mention of before. GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian nervous system. It cools things off and chills things out. People with depression and anxiety have been shown to have low amounts of GABA in their cerebrospinal fluid. MRI spectroscopy has been used to estimate the amount of GABA in people who are depressed, and the levels are low compared to controls (4). …

In 2010 the same group at BU did a second, somewhat larger study (5) comparing walkers and yoga practitioners. Again, healthy people were studied, not anyone with psychiatric illness. This time, 19 yoga practitioners and 15 walkers did yoga or walked for an hour three times a week for twelve weeks. The yoga practitioners reported improved mood and anxiety compared to the walking controls, and MRIs showed increased GABA in the thalamus (a part of the brain) of the yoga practitioners compared to the walkers. The increase in GABA correlated with the decrease in anxiety scores, which makes sense. Since there is a body of evidence that exercise is helpful in depression and anxiety (6), it is interesting to see that yoga could be even more helpful than regular exercise.

I have started doing yoga and Pilates recently on a regular basis and I have to say that the yoga is much more calming and feels less stressful than either Pilates or weight training. When I was younger, I hated yoga, as it seemed too calm and almost inactive and, frankly, frustrating to me. Recently, however, I have been getting more out of yoga. I don’t know if my mind has calmed down as I have gotten older or if I don’t have the stamina I once did, but yoga is definitely relaxing and seems to be great for those of us who spend the day on the computer.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock / Pikoso.kz

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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I try to take a natural approach and have tried many things which have been helpful such as the Sedona method and meditation. Also I have a video that may help other sufferers with anxiety at http://panicaway.net.au/video/ here It gives me inspiration It gives me hope that one day I will be free of these debilitating feeling and fears so I have included it on my blog. Thanks again.
Lisa x
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
my neighbor's sister-in-law makes $75/hr on the laptop. She has been laid off for seven months but last month her check was $16371 just working on the laptop for a few hours. go...
http://Www.Jobs37.CoM
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Personally I do Brazilian Jui Jitsu (BJJ). I'd give Yoga a try, if I had time, because I suspect it could benifit my BJJ.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
my classmate's mom makes $83 an hour on the internet. She has been without a job for eight months but last month her pay check was $12820 just working on the internet for a few hours. this hyperlink>>>>>>>>
http://xurl.es/7inli
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yoga is Satanic, at least according to the erstwhile candidate for VA Lt. Governor. So while your back might feel better, you are opening your soul to Satan. Its past time to reject candidates like EW Jackson.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Eh, I'll vote for someone who thinks Yoga is Satanic over a communist.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Praying the Rosary works for me.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Helen, I totally agree with you: yoga is a magnificent exercise and process.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
It works for a bad back, better than a chiropractor, and I have a good chiropractor.

The only other thing that works for my back problems are opiates and similar pain killers, and taking those long term really isn't an option I want to look into.

Also, I'm usually the only guy there and at least half the women look pretty damn good.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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