Studies reveal Yoga increases GABA (gamma-aminobutyric) levels

A group of researchers in the US are said to have used a specialized brain scanning technique with magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, which is actually an MRI scan, done at the molecular level, to study the effects of practice of yoga on the brain. They investigated, in particular, the manner in which concentrations of the feel-good compound gamma-aminobutyric (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter changed after the practice of regular yoga postures.

Eric Jensen along with few colleagues at the Havard Medical School, decided to look at eight subjects before and after an hour of yoga. On the control group, they had eleven subjects, who read a book instead of the yoga practice. Even with very small samples, they noticed a significant difference in the GABA levels among the yoga practitioners when compared to the readers.

The findings revealed that yoga, and probably other forms of exercises, should be considered as complementary treatments for disorders such as anxiety and depression, which are usually associated with low GABA levels.