Can Active Yoga Alleviate Depression?

Can Active Yoga Alleviate Depression?

How to Improve Your Mood in Three Hours a Week

( – An estimated 332 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression, which can vary from mildly impairing to disabling. A combination of psychotherapy and medication can help improve many symptoms, but some sufferers may find themselves in need of additional help. Active yoga could be that final piece of the puzzle.

What’s Active Yoga?

There are two basic forms of yoga: passive and active. Passive yoga relies on gravity and the body’s own weight to drive each stretch, the focus staying mainly on relaxing and holding extended or pillow-supported poses. Passive stretching is a good way to ease muscle tightness and extend your range of motion.

Active yoga is more dynamic. It combines movement, muscle conditioning and balance to create a full-body workout while placing an emphasis on mindfulness and deep breathing. Active yoga can help you strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility and trigger the release of endorphins, which can improve your sense of wellbeing.

Benefits to Mind and Body

Active yoga could do more than give you an endorphin rush. A study released in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine compared the effects of yoga versus walking on mood and anxiety levels. The researchers divided 34 subjects into two groups, walking and yoga, and each group had to perform their assigned exercise for 60 minutes, 3 days each week. The exercise routines were designed to require similar levels of physical exertion so as not to skew the results.

The study lasted 12 weeks, with anxiety assessments and brain MRI imaging taken at the beginning of the study and every 4 weeks. During the assessments, the yoga group reported a higher instance of mood improvement than the walking group, although improvements occurred in both groups. The yoga group also reported greater tranquility, a sense of revitalization and lower physical exhaustion levels.

The researchers found yoga improved levels of a neurochemical called GABA, which can have significant effects on depression and anxiety. Regular yoga practice may also improve mindfulness, according to Harvard Health, which can affect behavior and mood. Combined with the cognitive benefits of exercise alone, which include well-documented antidepressant effects, active yoga could benefit users by altering their systems in multiple ways. Of course, no one is advocating that anyone toss out their antidepressants — but it’s good to have options, and yoga is a great one.

If you’re depressed, any form of exercise could help you feel better, but active yoga could offer additional help. Consider taking a class or checking out an online tutorial and see if your mood improves. Regardless of your skill level, the potential benefits could be huge.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension

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