Practitioners of yoga commonly describe feeling happier, less stressed, and more relaxed after a yoga class. Many yoga styles teach meditation and deep breathing techniques to focus the mind on the breath. Other yoga styles focus on the asana or yoga pose to create a physiological, psychological, and/or biochemical effect. Researchers have investigated the practice of yoga to augment positive mood states and decrease feelings of anxiety.
Research published in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined an connection between practicing yoga and an increase in brain Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)-ergic activity. Researchers assessed 2 groups of subjects, a group practicing yoga and a group who practiced a walking exercise, over a 12 week session. Researchers examined the subjects brains before and after and comparisons of measures indicated that there was greater improvements in mood and greater decreases in anxiety in the yoga group. Positive correlations between improved mood and increased GABA levels were also noted (lower GABA levels are associated with depression and anxiety).
Another study examined the specific yoga poses that would be the most beneficial for increasing positive mood states and decreasing negativity and depression. Researchers investigated the Iyengar discipline of yoga and sequences developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. The Iyengar yoga style emphasizes structural alignment of the body through the asana practice. Researchers studied the effects of an Iyengar practice and found there was an increase in positive mood, a decrease in negative mood, and an increase in energy level regardless of the pose practiced. It was also noted in the research that backbending poses specifically increased positive moods in individuals who were hostile and/or depressed. Mr. Iyengar’s comprehensive yoga discipline is a potent and powerful system for many health conditions and concerns, it is his belief that yoga is for everyone and can be easily accessed by all.
3 Simple Poses to Elevate Your Mood
Child’s Pose – Relax in this pose for 10-15 deep breaths
Camel Pose – Repeat this pose 3-5 times
Head to Knee Pose – Alternate this pose on right and left sides for 2-3 minutes each
“Yoga is an art, a science and a philosophy. It touches the life of man at every level: physical, mental, spiritual. It is a practical method for making one’s life purposeful, useful and noble.” ~B.K.S. IYENGAR