There’s a reason why you’re mood improves and you feel calmer after yoga. In a controlled group study, brain scans of people who practiced yoga showed an increase in GABA levels.
GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid) inhibits nerve transmission for the central nervous system. Low GABA levels are associated with “psychiatric illnesses, such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, “seizures and epilepsy are associated with low levels of GABA.”
The GABA effect can be measured in a “relatively short time” practicing yoga. The study ran for 12 weeks with subjects practicing yoga for 60 minutes 3 times weekly.
The study compared yoga (Iyengar yoga specifically), with walking as an exercise. They conclude that yoga had a stronger effect when it comes to increasing GABA levels. Thus, although exercise in general has been shown to improve mood, yoga offer more when it comes to boosting mood and making us feel calmer.
The next time you’re practicing yoga, remember that you’re producing molecules that heal your body. How beautiful is that?