Improving Moods with Yoga by Gopi Rao

New studies at the Boston University School of Medicine may help to explain Yoga’s positive effects on mood disorders. According to their research, Yoga increases the level of GABA, a neurotransmitter that affects the brain in much the same way that an antidepressant does. If these results prove to be true, Yoga could become a non-drug alternative, or adjunct therapy, for the treatment of conditions like depression and anxiety disorders. It could also improve the quality of life for those suffering from the chronic stress and tension of daily life.

According to Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga, maintaining a good mood is as simple as being able to control one’s reactions to positive and negative emotions. To operate effectively, the brain needs approximately 25% more oxygen than the other organs in the body. Yoga not only produces natural chemicals that calm the mind, but it also increases the supply of freshly oxygenated blood to the brain.
Negative emotions create a self-fulfilling cycle. When a person is angry, or anxious, breathing becomes shallow and irregular. As a result, the body takes in less oxygen, and its organs function less efficiently – increasing the likelihood of fatigue, depression, and illness. In turn, physical activity and mental alertness decrease; and the need for mood-altering substances to combat mood swings escalates.
Meditation and breathing help to regulate the adrenal system and calm the mind, and Yoga poses (asanas) themselves can be considered a form of moving meditation.

The following Yoga asanas are often practiced for their restorative and stabilizing effect on the emotions:
• Supported Legs Up the Wall Pose is great for restoring energy, reducing blood pressure, and boosting the immune system.
• Supported Bridge Pose helps to balance hormones, manage headaches, and relieve hot flashes.
• Supported Lying Down Bound Angle Pose helps to relieve mood swings and depression.
• Child’s Pose relieves tension in the back and neck and restores energy and balance.
• Corpse Pose relaxes the entire body and reduces fatigue and mild depression.
• Bridge Pose helps to alleviate symptoms of menopause and rejuvenates tired legs.
• Downward Facing Dog helps to balance mood swings and can be helpful for adolescents.

Improving moods with Yoga is a reality.  Mood swings, especially, fluctuate throughout the different stages and circumstances of life. From budding puberty to post-menopause, a good Yoga instructor can help to develop a routine that deals with relevant issues and provides a basis for general health and well-being.
Therapeutic Hatha Yoga is under the close study of modern medical science and the initial test results are promising. Yoga teacher training programs and continuing education courses are available for instructors who are aware of student needs for solutions concerning anxiety and depression.
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