Did you know that close to 1 in 5 US adults suffers from anxiety disorders such as OCD, PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias? It's normal to experience some anxiety from time to time, but chronic worrying and stress wreaks havoc on our bodies and minds. We build tension in our muscles, constrict our breathing, and increase our risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Constantly being in a state of "fight or flight" sends chemicals and hormones into our systems like adrenaline that, over time, disrupt normal functioning of critical systems like sleep, digestion, and immune health. Headline: Chronic stress is bad.
Researchers have found that people who suffer from mood and anxiety disorders produce lower levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that regulates nerve activity in the brain and calms nervous activity. Without adequate GABA levels, neurons fire too easily and too often.
The good news is that yoga can help. In a BU School of Medicine study, researchers found that individuals who practiced yoga 3 times a week showed increased GABA levels, improved mood, and reduced anxiety. The study found evidence that yoga stimulated specific parts of the brain allowing more GABA to be released. Even more compelling, this and other studies have shown the effects to be stronger in yoga than with other types of exercise such as walking.
Want to kick chronic worry to the curb and feel calm, relief, and stability? Prioritize yoga at least three times a week and you'll see the benefits of yoga (ba) GABA!