According to researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), yoga may be superior to other forms of exercise, with regard to its positive effect on mood and anxiety.
The researchers compared the GABA levels of yoga disciples, with those of other participants who adopted walking as the only means of exercise. They followed the two randomized groups of healthy individuals over a 12-week period. While one of the groups practiced yoga thrice a week for an hour, the remaining subjects walked for the same duration of time.
The brains of the participants were scanned using a magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imaging, before and after the study. At the end of 12 weeks, the researchers found that those who practiced yoga reported considerable decline in anxiety and greater improvements in mood than those who only walked.
The positive changes in these reports are associated with rising GABA levels, said Lead Author Chris Streeter, MD, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at BUSM. Low GABA levels are associated with depression and other widespread anxiety disorders.
Streeter said that the positive aspect of yoga found in this research, indicates that practice of yoga can be considered as a potential therapy for certain mental disorders.
The study report appeared in the online journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine.