Yoga asana sessions increase brain GABA levels: A pilot study

Division of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.52). 06/2007; 13(4):419-26. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2007.6338
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to compare changes in brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels associated with an acute yoga session versus a reading session. It was hypothesized that an individual yoga session would be associated with an increase in brain GABA levels.
This is a parallel-groups design.
Screenings, scan acquisitions, and interventions took place at medical school-affiliated centers.
The sample comprised 8 yoga practitioners and 11 comparison subjects.
Yoga practitioners completed a 60-minute yoga session and comparison subjects completed a 60-minute reading session.
GABA-to-creatine ratios were measured in a 2-cm axial slab using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging immediately prior to and immediately after interventions.
There was a 27% increase in GABA levels in the yoga practitioner group after the yoga session (0.20 mmol/kg) but no change in the comparison subject group after the reading session ( -0.001 mmol/kg) (t = -2.99, df = 7.87, p = 0.018).
These findings demonstrate that in experienced yoga practitioners, brain GABA levels increase after a session of yoga. This suggests that the practice of yoga should be explored as a treatment for disorders with low GABA levels such as depression and anxiety disorders. Future studies should compare yoga to other forms of exercise to help determine whether yoga or exercise alone can alter GABA levels.

Download full-text


Available from: Domenic A Ciraulo, Jun 30, 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Understanding the autonomic nervous system and homeostatic changes associated with emotions remains a major challenge for neuroscientists and a fundamental prerequisite to treat anxiety, stress, and emotional disorders. Based on recent publications, the inter-relationship between respiration and emotions and the influence of respiration on autonomic changes, and subsequent widespread membrane potential changes resulting from changes in homeostasis are discussed. We hypothesize that reversing homeostatic alterations with meditation and breathing techniques rather than targeting neurotransmitters with medication may be a superior method to address the whole body changes that occur in stress, anxiety, and depression. Detrimental effects of stress, negative emotions, and sympathetic dominance of the autonomic nervous system have been shown to be counteracted by different forms of meditation, relaxation, and breathing techniques. We propose that these breathing techniques could be used as first-line and supplemental treatments for stress, anxiety, depression, and some emotional disorders.
    Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback 06/2015; 40(2). DOI:10.1007/s10484-015-9279-8 · 1.13 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Due to large variances in response to traditional rehabilitation for mental and physical health symptoms of motor impaired neurological patients, other approaches using complementary and alternative medicine are being explored. Yoga has been increasingly popular for use in the clinical setting for this population. This review illustrates the benefits of yoga and key recommendations of implementing such a program for motor impaired neurological patients.
    2nd Annual International Conference on Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology, Fort Canning, Singapore; 02/2013
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: The term "yoga" and the English word "yoke" are derived from Samskrit root "yuj" which means union. Yoga is a psycho-somatic-spiritual discipline for achieving union & harmony between our mind, body and soul and the ultimate union of our individual consciousness with the Universal consciousness (Madanmohan, 2008). Yoga is mind-body technique which involves relaxation, meditation and a set of physical exercises performed in sync with breathing. Being holistic, it is the best means for achieving physical, mental, social and spiritual well being of the practitioners. This can be achieved by systematic and disciplined practice of ashtang (eight-limbed) yoga described by sage Patanjali. The first two limbs of ashtang yoga are yam and niyam which are ethical code and personal discipline for the development of our moral, spiritual and social aspects. 3 rd and 4 th limbs are asan and pranayam which help in our physical development and improvement of physiological functions. 5 th and 6 th limbs are pratyahar and dharna for controlling our senses and making our mind one-pointed, calm and alert. The final two limbs of dhyan and samadhi result in inner peace, ecstasy, higher level of consciousness and the ultimate union of our individual consciousness with the Universal Consciousness, resulting in God realization. The result is unfoldment of a unique spiritual personality that is a blessing for the whole humanity. Yoga helps in developing our total personality in an integrated and holistic manner. Relevance to medical professionals: Healthy life can be considered as a by-product of practicing yogic techniques since it has been observed that yoga practitioners are physically and mentally healthier and have better coping skills to stressors than the normal population. Yoga is widely practiced and globally accepted. Hence, it can be very well integrated as a health promoting tool in our society. Healthy people as well as patients may inquisitively approach medical professionals to take consultation about yoga. Yoga is an experiential science. If this knowledge about yoga invokes interest in the medical professionals and they practice it themselves, it might open up new avenue in bringing together our traditional heritage of yoga and today's' objective knowledge of modern medicine. Documented scientific evidence strongly indicates that yoga has promotive, preventive as well as curative potential. As a non-pharmaco therapeutic and safe modality, it can be used as an effective lifestyle adjunct to medical treatment to reduce drug dosage and improve quality of life of the patients. It is to be emphasized that yoga is very effective for prevention as well as management of all-pervading stress and stress-related disorders. Modern medicine is very effective in controlling infections, performing surgeries and managing diseases. However, it has limited role in stress-based, chronic degenerative, old age and lifestyle related disorders which are the bane of modern society. Yoga has been found to be very effective in these conditions. Our public health delivery system is under-staffed, fund-starved and reeling under severe economic burden. Knowledge of inexpensive, effective and easily administrable yogic techniques by health professionals will go a long way in helping us achieve the WHO goal of providing "physical, mental, spiritual and social health" to the society.

Similar Publications