Beat Winter Doldrums with Yoga
With shorter days and often high expectations for the holidays, it’s common to feel low right around this time of year. But fortunately, new research suggests a mood fix might be just one “downward dog” away.
Researchers from Boston University put healthy volunteers (22 women, 12 men, average age 25), on either a walking or yoga regimen of one hour, three times a week. After three months the yoga practitioners scored 240% higher on mood surveys compared to the walkers. While one might pooh-pooh such tests as subjective, actual brain scans showed similar mood enhancements. Using nuclear magnetic resonance, the scientists found that the yogis had 14% higher levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter linked, at low levels, to depression and even epilepsy.
In addition to channeling more holiday cheer, yoga can guide you through this stressful season in other ways — for example, by helping you resist weight gain: One long term Seattle study found that yoga practice helped check middle-age spread. Yoga also helps reduce certain menopausal symptoms, while improving sleep quality. Watch actress Mariel Hemingway discuss her commitment to yoga and a healthy lifestyle, here.