Yogis have known for centuries that a yoga practice makes us feel calm and centered. But science is finally catching up with what we've all experienced on the mat and the cushion: yoga changes our brain chemistry, which in turn helps improve mood and decrease anxiety.
A new study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine reports that yoga triggers the release of the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a chemical in the brain that helps to regulate nerve activity. The findings establish a new link between yoga, higher levels of GABA, and improved mood.
The study, led by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine (the lead researcher is a yogi!), brings us one step closer toward harnessing yoga's power of prevention and relaxation. Who knows: maybe this can lead to a wider acceptance of yoga in the medical community as a tool to help people struggling with anxiety and depression. Prescription for yoga, anyone?