Yoga and stress management

GABA Receptor
Steven Edwards at Wired Blog writes a post titled Yoga Boosts Brain’s GABA Lev­els, say­ing that “Par­tic­i­pants in the yoga group had a 27% increase in GABA lev­els, while those in the read­ing group remained unchanged. Co-authors Chris Streeter from BUSM and Domenic Ciraulo point­ed out that this research shows a method of treat­ing low GABA states. Fair­ly obvi­ous — yes — but this shows a non­phar­ma­co­log­i­cal method for increas­ing GABA lev­els that peo­ple can act on now, with­out wait­ing for a drug to go through FDA approval.”

Hav­ing attend­ed last week a con­fer­ence where neu­rophar­ma exec­u­tives pre­sent­ed all their future drugs against obe­si­ty, anx­i­ety, depression…I could­n’t agree more. The rates of seri­ous side effects of these drugs are astound­ing, yet as a soci­ety we seem to pre­fer to rely on tak­ing drugs when are sick rather than proac­tive­ly tak­ing charge of our health and lifestyles and do our best (which not always is enough) to pro­tect our fit­ness and wellness.

The press release Steven talks about: Yoga and Ele­vat­ed Brain GABA Lev­els [PhysOrg]. Quotes:

  • “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 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.

Relat­ed posts:

Are yoga and med­i­ta­tion good for my brain?

Stress Man­age­ment Work­shop for Inter­na­tion­al Wom­en’s Day

Bill Clin­ton on health care and wellness


  1. Pamela McDowell on July 6, 2007 at 2:45

    Yoga could make you happier.

    Ok, to any­one who reg­u­lar­ly prac­tices yoga, this is not news. But this new study gives some bio-chem­i­cal rea­son for why yoga can make you feel hap­pi­er and calmer.

    .…So, increased brain GABA lev­els may be why pre­vi­ous stud­ies have found that yoga helps improve depres­sion, anx­i­ety, and epilepsy.…

  2. Alvaro on July 7, 2007 at 1:13

    Hi Pamela,

    There are a num­ber of ben­e­fits from yoga, on its own and as a great stress man­age­ment tech­nique, that go beyond GABA lev­els. But it is great to bet­ter under­stand what is going on, and be able to have a bet­ter pic­ture of what spe­cif­ic tech­niques are bet­ter for what goals. Kind regards

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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