Neuroscience of CALM / A Quick Flow to Improve Your Mood & Decrease AnxietyFeb 23, 2021
Have you ever wondered why you feel good and calm after a yoga class? Besides the fact that stretching and moving our body feels good, what else happens in our brain? Does our brain react differently between Yoga and an exercise with the same intensity? How does that affect our mood?
The article "Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels: A Randomized Controlled MRS Study" in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine answers the questions.
The study compared the way the brain reacts between the two groups (one group with 60mins of Yoga x3/ week X 12wks, and people in another group with a metabolically matched walking intervention for 60 minutes 3/week X 12wk). Their brain was scanned before, after, and during the study with MRS (magnetic resonance spectroscopy).
The yoga group experienced a more significant increase in this neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels than the walking group. Why does it matter? Because GAMA is our body's primary inhibitory neurotransmitter that plays a key role in promoting sleep, relieving anxiety, and protecting the brain. When GABA level increases, it can tone down the amygdala (the part of the brain that drives the so-called "fight or flight" response) and turn on the prefrontal cortex to quiet the alarm bell and engage in executive functioning. The study also shows more significant improvements in mood for people in the Yoga Group.
One more important takeaway: the elevated GABA levels seem to last about eight days. Practicing Yoga at least twice a week seems to help keep your GABA levels optimal.
I have several recorded classes [60 minutes ] that you can access at a convenient time. If you are short on time, try this quick flow to boost your mood and feel calm.
Let me know how you feel after the class in the comment below!
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