I’m a late convert to yoga. I’ve known since I was about 18 that lotus pose and other positionsseem to help with emotional problems, or at least that’s what my first therapist told me, but it’s taken me about 24 years to come around to it.
The research is on yoga is substantial and keeps growing. Two are my faves: In a German study published in 2005, 24 women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed” took two 90-minute yoga classes a week for three months while women in the controlled group continued normal activities. At the end of the three months, the yogis declared improvements in stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and well-being. In fact, the well-being scores improved by 65 percent. In a recent study by Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy at Duke University Medical Center, a group of 69 older adults with mild depression took weekly yoga sessions while another group of adults did nothing. The depression scores of the group that participated in yoga were decreased by 40 percent at the end of six months.
What’s going on inside the brain of a yogi? I read about a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine where researchers recruited eight longtime yogis who practiced twice a week for at least four months and 11 other folks who can’t touch their toes. Both groups had a baseline brain scan done. The control group read books or magazines for the same time, and all participants were rescanned immediately after. The yoga volunteers showed a 27 percent increase in GABA levels compared with the baseline. There was no change among the slacker readers. Continue reading >>