Nothing beats yoga in managing mood, anxiety

These findings by Boston University School of Medicine researchers show a link between yoga, decreased anxiety and increased GABA (brain gamma-aminobutyric) levels.

Low GABA levels are associated with depression and other widespread anxiety disorders, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported.

The researchers followed two randomised groups of healthy individuals over a 12-week period, according to a Boston University statement.

One group practised yoga three times a week for an hour while the remaining subjects walked for the same period of time.

Using magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imaging, the participants' brains were scanned before the study began.

At week 12, the researchers compared the GABA levels of both groups before and after their final 60-minute session.

Each subject was also asked to assess his or her psychological state at several points throughout the study.

Those who practised yoga reported a more significant decrease in anxiety and greater improvements in mood than those who walked.

"Over time, positive changes in these reports were associated with climbing GABA levels," said Chris Streeter, associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at Boston University School of Medicine who led the study.

Streeter suggested that the practise of yoga be considered as a potential therapy for certain mental disorders.

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