Showing posts with label yoga for health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yoga for health. Show all posts

Yoga And Elevated Brain GABA Levels

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and McLean Hospital have found that practicing yoga may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain's primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. The findings, which appear in the May issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, suggest that the practice of yoga be explored as a possible treatment for depression and anxiety, disorders associated with low GABA levels.

The World Health Organization reports that mental illness makes up to fifteen percent of disease in the world. Depression and anxiety disorders both contribute to this burden and are associated with low GABA levels. Currently, these disorders have been successfully treated with pharmaceutical agents designed to increase GABA levels.

Using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, the researchers compared the GABA levels of eight subjects prior to and after one hour of yoga, with 11 subjects who did no yoga but instead read for one hour. The researchers found a twenty-seven percent increase in GABA levels in the yoga practitioner group after their session, but no change in the comparison subject group after their reading session. The acquisition of the GABA levels was done using a magnetic resonance spectroscopy technique developed by J. Eric Jensen, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate physicist at McLean Hospital.

According to the researchers, yoga has shown promise in improving symptoms associated with depression, anxiety and epilepsy. "Our findings clearly demonstrate that in experienced yoga practitioners, brain GABA levels increase after a session of yoga," said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM and a research associate at McLean Hospital.

"This study contributes to the understanding of how the GABA system is affected by both pharmacologic and behavioral interventions and will help to guide the development of new treatments for low GABA states," said co-author Domenic Ciraulo, MD, professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry at BUSM.

"The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage," added senior author Perry Renshaw, MD, PhD, director of the Brain Imaging Center at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital.

Source: Boston University

Try Yoga To Soothe The Stress In Your Mind And The Tension In Your Body!

Times are hard and they just seem to be getting harder! Everyday, we hear more dire news about the economy, sinking stock prices and mounting job losses. Everyone is worried that they will be the next victim. This stress can have damaging effects on your emotional and physical well being.

Stress and worry can lead to more severe anxiety problems, even panic attacks! It is important to keep your mind and body balanced and one great way to do that is to learn yoga.

- Yoga is practiced by more than 6 million Americans and this number is only on the rise. As more and more people are discovering the amazing health and stress reduction effects of this ancient art, it is becoming increasingly commonplace among both men and women. Yoga is not just exercise and it's not just relaxation, it is a combination of both and it can be practiced by anyone, regardless of their age, gender, flexibility or weight.

- Yoga does incorporate some gymnastics into its movements. There are twists and contortions that will increase your flexibility and help you trim your weight and improve your appearance. To the untrained observer, it might seem like you have to be a contortionist to practice yoga. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, yoga is all about accepting the limitations of your body in the moment and working towards expanding those limitations to their fullest extent.

- Yoga also includes some meditative practices, a great way to lessen anxiety and prevent panic attacks. Meditation is not just for hippies, it is a way to let go some of the accumulated stresses that build up in our lives and simply be at peace in the moment.

An important aspect of meditation and of the more physical components of yoga is the emphasis on the breath. It is so important to breathe properly and too many of us forget how to breath from our abdomen, Without this deep breathing, we are denying our body, valuable oxygen it needs to deal with the stress we encounter in our lives.

There are many different types of yoga and many different ways to engage in the practice. As a beginner, I suggest you go to a yoga studio. Studio teachers will be more likely to help you get into the position (something you might need) and help you integrate the emotional part of the yoga experience with the physical.

Yoga classes at gyms, tend to be more physical in nature and give short shrift to the meditative component. Do not underestimate the power of meditation or the way it can release muscle tension and provide you with some inner peace. However, once you've learned the basics of yoga, attending gym based classes or indulging on your own, will accomplish the same purpose.

If neither of these options are available to you, there are a number of videos and books available that can guide you through the yoga practice although nothing replaces just a few classes for the visual and educational perspective they offer. The key to lower levels of anxiety and even panic attack prevention lay in finding ways to achieve some inner peace and some physical relief.

Stressed at work? Try yoga

A bit of daily yoga and meditation, combined with six weekly group sessions, can lower stress and improve sleep quality for sedentary office-goers, says a pilot study.

Because chronic stress is associated with chronic disease, I am focussing on how to reduce stress before it has a chance to contribute to disease, said Maryanna Klatt, professor at Ohio State University (OSU), who led the study.

The study offered participants a modified version of what is known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a programme established in 1979 to help patients assist themselves in their own healing.
Mindfulness refers in part to one’s heightened awareness of the factors that cause stress.

While the traditional MBSR programme practice takes up an hour per day for eight weeks supplemented by lengthy weekly sessions and a full-day retreat, the modified version was developed by OSU for office workers.

Participants attended one-hour weekly group meetings during lunch and practised 20 minutes of meditation and yoga daily at their desks.

After six weeks, participants reported greater awareness of stress factors, felt less stressed by events, and fell asleep more easily than did a control group that did not experience the intervention.

The pilot study was based on 48 office workers, who exercised less than 30 minutes on most days of the week. Forty two people completed the study.

The results were published in a recent issue of Health Education & Behavior.

Evaluating Benefits Of Yoga - American Council On Exercise (ACE) First

Today more than 11 million Americans pack fitness studios around the country seeking the mind-body benefits of yoga, including increased flexibility, strength, balance and muscle tone. But is yoga also a good calorie-burning workout? In an exclusive study, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's nonprofit fitness advocate, examined the aerobic benefits and calorie expenditure of Hatha yoga, the most beginner-friendly and widespread practice.

Lead researchers Dawn Boehde and John Porcari, Ph.D., FACSM, from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse recruited 34 healthy but sedentary women (average age of 33) for the study. Before beginning the study, participants were given the same series of tests evaluating their flexibility, balance, aerobic fitness level and muscular strength and endurance.

The subjects where divided into two groups: a yoga group and a non-yoga control group. The yoga group participated in 55-minute Hatha yoga classes three times a week during the eight-week study period while the non-yoga group was barred from any form of exercise.

The study concluded that while the yoga group showed numerous improvements in strength and endurance as well as improved balance and flexibility, they did not burn a significant amount of calories. In fact, one 50-minute session of Hatha yoga burns just 144 calories, similar to a slow walk.

"Yoga is designed to relax the body and help improve musculoskeletal fitness. If you attempt to incorporate calorie-burning elements in a yoga session you may compromise the essential purpose and beneficial effects of the practice," said Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for ACE. "While the ACE study shows that a Hatha yoga session burns a relatively small amount of calories, yoga is still a valuable addition to any exercise routine offering the essential elements of flexibility, balance and relaxation; factors often neglected in traditional workouts."

Yoga group participants did show the following improvements:

-- Yoga participants' total body flexibility improved by 13 percent, with significant results in shoulder and trunk flexibility

-- Muscular fitness also improved in the yoga group enabling them to do an average of six more push-ups and 14 more curl-ups

-- Yoga participants experienced a 17-second increase in their one-legged stand time

Relax And Refocus With Yoga

The essence of optimal health is a healthy mind in a health body. Yoga, which has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, is a way to achieve both.

The November issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers an overview of yoga and its health benefits.

Rooted in ancient India, today's yoga is broadly understood as a system of relaxation, postures and breathing. Over the centuries, different forms of yoga have evolved. Some focus more on spirituality, others on mediation and mastering the conscious mind. Some are more physically challenging than others.

A number of research studies have been conducted on the potential health benefits of yoga. Some commonly acknowledged benefits include:

Relaxation and stress relief. Yoga's quiet precise movements focus your mind less on your busy day and more on movement as you breathe deeply and progress through a series of poses.

Increased flexibility and balance. As you learn and practice new poses, you'll find that each time you can reach a little farther.

Although evidence isn't definitive, studies have also shown that yoga may help manage certain chronic health conditions, such as:

Depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders
Cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol
Chronic pain

If you'd like to try yoga, look for classes in your area. You also can learn from books and videos, but an instructor can help you adjust poses to your needs. Ask about the instructor's training and experience in working with your particular needs or health concerns.

At the end of the yoga class, you should feel invigorated yet calm. If that's not the case, talk to the instructor for suggestions. Otherwise, anotheryoga class may be better suited to your needs.