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Yoga Pumps Up Mood-Lifting Brain Chemical

New research suggests yoga triggers the release of the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. GABA is a chemical in the brain that helps to regulate nerve activity.

GABA activity is reduced in people with mood and anxiety disorders, and drugs that increase GABA activity are commonly prescribed to improve mood and decrease anxiety.

A study, led by Dr. Chris Streeter and colleagues from Boston University School of Medicine, discovered increased GABA levels measured after a session of yoga postures were associated with improved mood and decreased anxiety.

Their findings establish a new link between yoga, higher levels of GABA in the thalamus, and improvements in mood and anxiety based on psychological assessments.

The authors suggest that the practice of yoga stimulates specific brain areas, thereby giving rise to changes in endogenous antidepressant neurotransmitters such as GABA.

The scientist report their findings in an article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

“This is important work that establishes some objective bases for the effects that highly trained practitioners of yoga therapy throughout the world see on a daily basis.

“What is important now is that these findings are further investigated in long-term studies to establish just how sustainable such changes can be in the search for safe non-drug treatments for depression,” says Kim A. Jobst, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert

Yoga Pumps Up Mood-Lifting Brain Chemical

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Yoga Pumps Up Mood-Lifting Brain Chemical. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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