One of my favorite benefits to yoga is that regardless of the way I feel when I start my practice, I ALWAYS feel better. A lot of times, I come to my mat feeling like I’ve started my day on the wrong foot- shitty sleep, too much to do with too little time, missing my Mom that is no longer here, bitter toward someone (or even myself) – in other words, I’ve woken up in a bad mood. Whether my bad mood is mild or scary severe, yoga always works and I feel better. The power of yoga to work when my mood is so low got me curious, how does yoga really improve mood?
According to a study in Natural News on how yoga improves mood, reduces anxiety and depression, “yoga impacts mood and anxiety. It is supposedly more impactive than walking or other forms of exercise, because the brain responds to yoga by producing more of the chemical GABA, according to an article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a chemical that regulates nerve activity.” People who suffer from mood or anxiety disorders typically have less GABA production and prescription drugs are used to jumpstart and increase GABA production to regulate or improve mood and anxiety. “A study conducted by Boston University School of Medicine concluded that increased GABA production after a yoga session was the reason behind improved mood and lowered anxiety levels. This finding establishes that yoga increases GABA levels in the hypothalamus, which leads to improved mood and reduced anxiety.”
No wonder yoga always makes me feel better.
How do you deal with a bad mood? If it’s not yoga, try yoga next time and see how it impacts your mood. I find that even 10 minutes is effective. Here’s a sequence I wrote a while back that will help get you out of your bad mood and into a better head (and body) space.