Both groups showed improvements in their mental state and heightened levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (aka, GABA) - an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system which also plays a part in helping to manage depressive symptoms. While these levels remained elevated for up to four days following the participants’ last session, the increase dissipated after eight days.
Because of this, the researchers suggest one yoga class per week may be enough to maintain the effects.
“The study suggests that the associated increase in GABA levels after a yoga session are ‘time-limited’ similar to that of pharmacologic treatments such that completing one session of yoga per week may maintain elevated levels of GABA,” explained Dr Chris Streeter, associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM.
Co-author Marisa Silveri, Ph.D. added that the findings provide “important neurobiological insight as to the 'how' yoga may help to alleviate depression and anxiety.”
“We found that an important neurochemical, GABA, which is related to mood, anxiety and sleep, is significantly increased in association with a yoga intervention.”
A good a reason as any to roll out the mat.