Yoga is an ancient Indian ritual that proved to be beneficial for the mind and body. According to research, this ritual, which was known to reduce stress and enhance mood, can also help to improve the recovery of breast cancer survivors. It also reduces inflammation and neutralizes the effect of fibromyalgia, the study added.
Until recently, there is no direct explanation why yoga enhances mood. But a study conducted by a team led by Dr. Chris Streeter from Boston University School of Medicine suggested that it could be the increase of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which helps to the improve mood of yoga practitioners. GABA is an amino acid which acts as an antidepressant neurotransmitter that helps to inhibit nerve transmission in the brain and calms nervous activity.
The study involved the monitoring of the psychological state of several individuals who were divided into two groups. The first group was made to practice yoga for 12 weeks while the other group was made to walk for the same length of time. Upon evaluation of the results, the researchers found out that the decrease in the anxiety level of the members that practiced yoga was higher than the subjects who walked. The researchers also discovered a higher improvement in the moods of yoga practitioners than the ones who walked.
Another study also links yoga to the improvement of the recovery of cancer survivors and the slowing down of the effects of fibromyalgia, a medical condition in which a person experiences long-term, body-wide pain and fatigue.
A study led by Amy Speed-Andrews from the University of Alberta related that the practice of Iyengar yoga helped to improve the recovery of 94 percent of cancer survivors who participated in the study. Another 80 percent said yoga made them happier and 80 percent asserted that yoga made them less tired.
The positive influence of yoga in people suffering from fibromyalgia became evident when the journal Pain reported the results of a study that involved 53 female participants.
After an eight-week yoga program, 42 percent of the participants experienced a reduction in depression while 24 percent said they felt less pain. Thirty percent also declared that their feeling of tiredness was reduced.
Yoga also helps to alleviate inflammation by reducing the amount of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the blood. IL-6 is a compound which plays a major role in the body’s inflammatory responses.
Aside from its mood-enhancing and stress-reducing effects, yoga can also be an enjoyable way to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other age-related ailments, the study revealed.