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Yoga for Depression

Daily aerobic exercise is a reliable and effective treatment for mild to moderate depression, but new research suggests that yoga may work even better. A study from Boston University School of Medicine showed that practicing yoga increased  levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric) in the brain. Low levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter, are associated with depression and anxiety disorders. Investigators followed two randomized groups of healthy volunteers for 12 weeks. One group performed an hour of yoga three times a week, while the other group walked for an hour three times a week. Before and after the last session, the researchers compared the GABA levels of each of the volunteers using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging. They found increased GABA levels and decreased anxiety among the participants in the yoga group, who also reported a significantly greater decrease in anxiety and more improved mood over the course of the study than did the volunteers in the walking group. The study was published online by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Try adding poses like Downward-Facing Dog, Extended Side Angle Pose, Tree Pose and Warrior II to your morning routine and see how you feel.

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Reader Comments (3)

Hello Dr. Weil,

I'm so glad that you've posted this study. So many people in this culture have such difficulty accepting the vast benefits of a yoga practice.

p.s. It was nice meeting you in Mendocino last year. You taught me to chop fresh herbs directly into the salad! :)

October 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Yoga is one of the best exercise, it add flexibility in our body and help us relax and relieve stress.. Perfect to have a healthy and fit body.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephen

I am a student in college right now and am studying more in to exercise and how they may help more than just the physically aspect. I have recently been trying to take up some Yoga classes to gain the full experience of what this article was saying. I am finding it very helpful the more I attend class and find a peaceful state of mind.

October 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
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