Treating Depression With Yoga

One of the qualities of yoga that is very attractive to many people is its ability to heal. In my years of involvement with yoga I have seen many amazing transformations for many people in many different ways. Not to mention my personal experiences. With all this anecdotal evidence for yoga’s restorative qualities it isn’t much of a surprise when science offers proof. Case in point is how yoga can cure certain types of depression.

There are different types of depression. From a strictly medical perspective the main issue is brain chemistry. What causes these imbalances in brain chemistry may be of interest to a holistic healer, but the important issue is to find something that can offer some relief.

One type of depression is caused by a deficency of the brain chemical called GABA which stands for gamma-Aminobutyric acid. GABA helps keep the brain balanced by controlling the rhythmic theta waves that are associated with a relaxed yet alert dream-like state. Theta is related to a drowsy or meditative state. Theta is also found while sleeping, but not deep sleep.

A recent study by the National Institute of Health shows that yoga helps increase GABA levels in the brain better than walking. A previous study shows that 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week is just as effective as drug therapy in treating depression. Zoloft was the drug while the exercise was probably brisk walking — walking is the main exercise used in exercise related studies done by the NIH.

Movement, in general, will help shift emotion, an old adage.

There are sure to be many future studies like this. I really like it when this happens because it validates years of experience of the power of yoga. Have you ever experienced something amazing from your practice of yoga? Leave a comment with your story, I’m sure we would all like to know.