Yoga for anxiety & depression

Many scientific studies have shown that yoga as a therapy has a profound effect in treating psychiatric and mental disorders. One of the directors at National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, B.N. Gangadhar believes that yoga is being increasingly used as a method of treating various disorders including psychiatric ones. A study co-authored by him examined yoga as a therapy, supplemented with medical treatment of schizophrenia. Another study led by B.N. Gangadhar from NIMHANS found that Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is helpful in bringing down the levels of plasma cortisol, which is an indicator of stress or illness. The group of people in the study showed tremendous improvement in mental or behavioural disorders.

Researchers from several organizations including Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, have investigated the impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a meditation-based program that includes some yoga practice, on certain areas of the brain. Positive changes were revealed by the MRI studies on participants with GAD (generalised anxiety disorder), in regions of the brain, which are associated with expression of emotion, concentration, regulation and production of mood-enhancing and anxiety-reducing neurochemicals. Around ninety percent of participants showed reduction in anxiety after around eight weeks of yoga practice.

Yoga appears to modulate stress response systems and to decrease physiological arousal like lowering of blood pressure, reduction of heart rate, and easing respiration. Evidence also shows that yoga practices increase heart rate variability, which improves the body�s ability to respond to stress more flexibly. A study conducted by the researchers at University of Utah, showed that yoga practitioners had the highest levels of pain tolerance and lowest pain-related brain activity during the MRI. This study highlights the value of yoga techniques which help a person regulate their stress, and further regulate pain responses. Many studies have proved yoga�s ability to combat depression through balancing the brain chemistry and stress hormone levels. With the help of yoga, we can pull ourselves out of depression and enjoy inspiration and vitality in our lives.