The Mental Health Benefits of Yoga

The Mental Health Benefits of Yoga


Hello yogis! I’m Rachael, an “intern” of sorts for Grateful Yoga from Montpelier High School. This past semester I have been meeting with Chrissy weekly to work on marketing GY, finding ways to get more youth involved, and attending classes to find my own balance. I found that doing yoga regularly, my anxiety was at bay and I was focused when I went back to school to learn. So why not look into the mental health benefits of yoga?

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (or GABA) is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate nerve activity. People who have mood or anxiety disorders are found to have low amounts of this chemical. According to a study constructed by Chris Streeter, a MD from Boston University of Medicine, GABA levels measured after a class of yoga are linked to decreased anxiety and a bettered mood. His team theorizes that because yoga stimulates certain parts of the brain, it increases the rise in GABA, and other endogenous antidepressant neurotransmitters.

(Yoga vs.) Antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Luvox, inhibit the serotonin from being reabsorbed back into the nerve cells where they came from in order to stabilize the mood. They too, increase GABA, but potentially with the cost of nausea, vision changes, and unusual bruising. Yoga safely increases dopamine and GABA levels without the side effects of SSRI’s, plus the ability to retain knowledge and focus.

Retaining knowledge and focus are two of many things yoga can help the mind with. According to researchers from the University of Illinois, subjects who practiced a 20 minute yoga sequence were better able to finish faster and more accurately during a post workout brain test, than patients who walked or jogged on a treadmill for the same amount of time. It seems that the those who practice yoga are able to focus their mental resources, process information efficiently, and keep and update pieces of information more effectively than those who do aerobic exercises.

Take care of your core, your wellness, and your mental health yogis and have a great week!

Rachael Cummings a junior at Montpelier High School and works closely with Chrissy and the Grateful Yoga community as a part of her Community Based Learning program.