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The Benefits of Yoga

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

There are those times when alternative medicine makes sense. A new study was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The findings in the study not only show the benefits of Yoga but the how and why of how Yoga works. To be more specific, the study demonstrated that Yoga can reduce anxiety and depression.

If you are curious, the article is available On Line at no cost. Simply do a Google search for the journal and its easy to find the website and article. The reference information is:

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
“Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood,
Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels.”
Volume 16, Number 11, 2010, pp. 1145–1152
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

One note of caution that the researchers stress is that their findings are preliminary. In other words, it is not time to throw away those anti depressant and anti anxiety medications. More studies need to be done.

The findings were that Yoga increases GABA in the neurons of the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that, when supplies are inadequate lead do depression and anxiety. While some anti depressant medications work to increase GABA levels in the brain, exercise does the same. The study, which was controlled by comparing a group of people who used walking as exercise with a group who did and equivalent amount of Yoga, clearly demonstrated that Yoga was superior to walking in increasing GABA flow.

To put this more simply, both groups of people, walkers and yoga participants, felt improved mood afterwards. However, in the Yoga group, mood improvement was better than the walking group.

It should be stated that the Yoga training was lead by certified and skilled Yoga teachers.

Do any of you practice Yoga? What experiences and outcomes have you noticed about yourself after a Yoga session? I would like to hear from those of you who walk.

Your comments and questions are strongly encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

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