I bet anyone who has practiced yoga for any period of time has had a similar experience: you drag your ass to class feeling stressed, shitty, even mean. You're not kind to yourself or to others ("yeah, hear that, road rage") but for some reason, you still drag your ass to class. Miraculously you leave with a breath of relief and gratitude. You see blue sky where you once saw smog and traffic. Suddenly you're enveloped by the aroma of a magnolia tree that you walk by every day. Life is groovy.
This mood uplifting transformation now has scientific data to back it up. It turns out yoga may literally increase the level of a brain neuro-transmitter called gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) which helps keep us calm and carry on.When GABA levels sink too low, we become anxious and depressed.
Published today in The Journal of Alternative Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study conducted at the Boston University School of Medicine, took two randomized groups. One practiced yoga three times a week for 12 weeks and the other group walked three times a week for 12 weeks. GABA levels were measured on both groups before and after the study. The end study findings indicate that not only did the yogis report better mood and less anxiety, their brains also showed higher levels of GABA present.
With that, all I want to say is: GABA GABA GABA. Even the word makes me happy.
GABA image courtesy: wikimedia commons