Yoga boosts mood more than walking


by KING 5 HealthLink

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 4:57 PM

How do you boost your mood when you're feeling down? Eating ice cream? Going for a run? Sports Center? Turns out the only things you really need are a bottle of water and a place to lie down.

Meditation in motion. Yoga instructors will tell you it is true happiness.

"It sort of clears away the stress," said Lynne Begier, of Sweat and Soul Yoga.

Now research shows that work on the mat may be working wonders for your brain.

"We have really cutting-edge neuro-imaging that allows us to measure GABA in the brain, so now we can actually measure a chemical that goes up when people do a yoga practice," said Chris Streeter, MD, from Boston University School of Medicine.

GABA is a chemical in your brain that is released when you're happy. Brain scans were snapped before and after yoga sessions. Dr. Streeter's work shows yoga stimulates the brain, boosting mood while decreasing anxiety.

A new study found those who did yoga three times weekly saw a consistent increase in GABA levels. Those who simply walked for exercise saw no change at all. Another study found an hour of yoga boosted GABA levels 27-percent over relaxing with a book for an hour.

"That information gets sent up to the brain, the brain uses that information so that the GABA levels go up," Dr. Streeter said.

So, it turns out yoga's mind-body connection really is a connection.

"Yoga definitely cleanses your body,"said Meghan Rozanski, a yoga instructor.

According to this research, yoga may also be beneficial for conditions like depression and epilepsy.