How Yoga Changes Your Brain

Posted by on September 24, 2016 in Exercise and Fitness, Health, Mind-Body Connection with 2 Comments

Yoga and the Brain

By Josh Axe | Dr. Axe.com

Did you ever wonder how yoga changes your brain? As it turns out, that post-session happiness you feel isn’t just in your head. Using brain scans, scientists can now prove that yoga actually changes your brain chemistry. And that’s a good thing. Just like practicing tai chi moves, using yoga as a form of exercise and meditation can help naturally treat a range of health issues, particularly ones rooted in the brain.

How Yoga Changes Your Brain

While natural therapies, including yoga, don’t have a ton of funding for major studies compared to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, we are starting to see some compelling science emerge. Some of the best science to date showing how yoga changes your brain involves yoga’s impact on anxiety, depression and pain tolerance.


Yoga Unleashes GABA

Did you know yoga is a natural remedy for anxiety? That’s because yoga impacts our brain’s GABA levels. GABA is short for gamma-aminobutryic acid, sometimes referred to as your body’s “chill out” neurotransmitter. GABA is crucial for suppressing neural activity. Your GABA neurotransmitters produce a calming effect similar to of drinking alcohol (without the harmful side effects). And, of course, alcohol’s calming effects are only temporary, with anxiety often rising once the buzz wears off. (12)

Yoga bumps up your brain’s natural GABA production without traditional anti-anxiety drugs designed to help your body release GABA. (Getting off of these benzodiazepine drugs can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms.) Yoga sounds much better than insomnia, seizures and, ironically, more anxiety linked with drug withdrawal. (3)

Bring on the asanas! And get this. While walking to lose weight really works, it may not be your best defense against anxiety. Practicing yoga unleashes more anxiety-quelling GABA in the brain’s thalamus than walking, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Compared to pleasure reading for an hour, a 60-minute yoga session increases GABA levels by 27 percent. (4) Because of its combination of breathing, meditation and movement, yoga could be one of the best exercises to combat anxiety.

How yoga changes your brain - Dr. Axe

Yoga Builds Healthier Gray Matter in the Brain


Yoga can actually prevent or reverse the effects of chronic pain on the brain, according to the National Institutes of Health. In fact, depressed individuals may have reduced gray matter in the brain as the result of chronic pain.

Gray matter is located in the cerebral cortex and subcortical areas of the brain. Decreased gray matter can lead to memory impairment, emotional problems, poorer pain tolerance and decreased cognitive functioning.

But yoga and meditation have the opposite effect on the brain as chronic pain. And get this: People who regularly practice yoga have more robust levels of gray matter in their brains in areas involved with pain modulation. This means yoga could be an effective remedy for certain types of depression and one of the top natural painkillers you can count on. (5)

Yoga even acts as a natural antidepressant in pregnant women susceptible to depression. A 2012 study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practicefound meditative yoga significantly reduce depression symptoms in at-risk women. (6)

Yoga could be the most important forms of exercise to combat anxiety thanks to its unique breathing, meditative and stretching exercises rolled into one practice. While there are many different forms of yoga, I encourage you to start out with gentle yoga and experiment to find the type that works best for you.

Medical research tells us that yoga changes your brain in wonderful ways. These include flooding the brain with calming GABA and bulking up gray matter in areas of the brain that make us able to tolerate pain. This is crucial for those living with chronic pain. Too many doctors are too quick to prescribe painkillers. Instead, give yoga a try. Your brain will thank you.

Tags: , , , , ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

2 Reader Comments

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1. 10210518445141772@facebook.com' Ajit Yadav says:

    yoga controls whatever pains???

  2. I need this in my life ASAP

New Title

NOTE: Email is optional. Do NOT enter it if you do NOT want it displayed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Top

Send this to friend