Yoga enthusiasts have long made bold claims about the benefits to be gained through its practice. At long last the medical world may be ready to back up some of those claims with facts. More Americans than ever before are struggling with some sort of mood sensitivity such as depression or anxiety. At the same time, fewer of us are willing to take antidepressants to deal with those mood challenges but instead are seeking out alternative remedies. Yoga could prove to be one of the more promising alternatives to medication.
Yoga is appealing because it represents one of those simple lifestyle changes which can result in significant life quality changes. There is no question that eating a healthy diet, getting proper sleep and engaging in regular exercise all helps to improve a person’s overall mood. Science has proven that these basic practices are able to ward off mild to moderately disordered mood swings. Exercise helps to stabilize mood in a couple of ways.
Exercise is known to trigger the body’s release of chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins work as natural mood enhancers. Therefore, adding a brief period of exercise to your daily schedule can be like replacing the synthetic anti-depressant with one already existing in the body’s own chemistry. For the person with mild to moderate depression, regular vigorous exercise could be the alternative remedy they are seeking.
For anxiety, some are recommending the ancient practice of yoga. Many of us may avoid yoga because it prompts a mental image of impossible body contortions, but yoga experts say that it is far more than simply learning to become a human pretzel. Furthermore, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine not long ago reported that a study was able to demonstrate how yoga works naturally to combat anxiety.
Anxiety is associated with neurotransmitter activity within the brain, particularly the over-activity of glutamate which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (known as GABA) acts as a counter-weight to over-excited glutamate, but persons experiencing abnormal anxiety often have low levels of GABA.
Anti-anxiety medications increase GABA levels, but the study says that yoga has the very same effect. Practicing yoga can enhance GABA levels and thereby reduce a person’s susceptibility to anxiety. In fact, the Journal’s report claimed that yoga was better than walking in terms of improving a person’s mood and reducing their anxiety. Yoga teachers say that practicing the simple methods of controlled breathing, focused meditation, and simple hand movements is enough to help people regain a sense of emotional control over their lives.
Don’t worry about yoga mats and rubber band body positions they say, basic yoga is enough to reap the benefits. So far, studies are showing that yoga could be one of the viable alternatives that people are looking for.