Thursday, January 13, 2011


BEATING THE BLUES BY IMPROVING MOOD - Scientists are now giving serious attention to an idea that yogis have known for centuries: that yoga has a positive effect on your mood. Although it’s an ancient mind-body practice, the future of yoga may be in treating mood disorders. Scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine measured yoga’s effect on depression and anxiety versus walking with a brain imaging study. The 34 study participants were randomly selected healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 45. They were divided into two groups: those who walked for an hour three times a week, and those who practiced Iyengar yoga (a strenuous form of yoga) for the same amount of time. The subjects’ brain scans were taken using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). This cutting-edge technology measured the participants’ levels of a brain chemical gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA).

Those subjects practicing yoga reported greater mood improvement than those walking, and their GABA levels matched those improvements. By looking at actual changes in the brain, scientists are identifying new approaches to treating depression and anxiety. Walking is still a great form of exercise, and any exercise will be beneficial for those struggling with mood disorders. However, yoga improved mood more than walking did in this small study population. While yoga may not be a substitute for treatment, it could be an appropriate add-on. The inner source of calm Yoga provides might also be an effective antidote to the blues. When starting any new exercise, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional and to learn the moves from a qualified teacher.

Researchers found that compared to walking, yoga provides practitioners a greater improvement in mood, as well as a decrease in their anxiety. Originating from India, Yoga involves gentle movements and controlled breathing. The various postures, called asanas, are appropriate for most people regardless of any age, weight or fitness level. Yoga reduces stress, enhances concentration and increases flexibility. It’s gentle enough so that beginners don’t feel threatened and there’s no need to twist yourself to realize the benefits. As a quiet retreat from life’s demands, yoga can help you detach from whatever is troubling you.

Hatha Yoga is founded on a principle of putting the physical body into a position so that the nerve currents in the physical body get tuned up to a perfect pitch. ... Perform the postures daily in the privacy of your own room, without drawing attention to yourself. Naturally, they should not be performed after meals. Don’t worry if you can’t perform them perfectly, or if some are difficult for you. ... When physical tensions are released through Hatha Yoga, mental-emotional tensions are automatically dissolved. This is a great secret and a wonderful tool that you can use every day of your life. Free the mind of thoughts and tensions and you will be more aware, more alive, and more serene. As you perform the Hatha yoga asanas, put out of your mind all thoughts relating to your work, family, friends, associates, problems and challenges that normally concern you. Relax. Relax. Relax. Be completely at peace with yourself and fully enjoy this contemplative art.

“What Is Hinduism?” :
Chapter 34 “Hatha Yoga”
“A 24-Posture System of Body Tuning and Preparation for Meditation”
Hinduism Today Magazine
Himalaya Academy, India - USA - 2007

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