Yoga Resolution: Study Proves Positive Effects on Mood

A recent study by the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) found that yoga has a more positive impact on mood, including reduced anxiety and depression, than other forms of exercise.  The study included two randomized groups of approximately 35 individuals who were assigned to participate in either one hour of yoga or walking three times a week.  Those who participated in yoga demonstrated significantly increased brain gamma aminobutyric (GABA) levels.  Individuals with low GABA levels have been found to exhibit depression and anxiety related issues.  Participants were also asked to evaluate their emotional or psychological state throughout the study, and those in the yoga group reported a more significant decrease in anxiety and greater improvements in mood than the walking group.  Although yoga has been commonly associated with helping stress management, relaxation, physical and mental flexibility, endurance, and focus, this is reportedly the first study to solidify a correlation between yoga, increased GABA levels, and effect on mood and stress.

Given the scientific affirmation that yoga is beneficial, you may want to consider adding it to your list of New Year’s Resolutions.  Even if you’re still not completely convinced, you could at least consider making it a goal to try it out before ruling it out.  Better yet, I encourage you to replicate the study for curiosity sake…try one hour of yoga three times a week for twelve weeks and see if you feel a difference.  Even better yet, make it a family research project and see how it impacts each family member, including your children for twelve weeks.  To attract new members, many yoga studios offer beginner’s or trial discounts or packages.  Yoga exercise classes can also be found on TV and at the library.  During your exploration of yoga, be open to learning about the full benefit of yoga…the physical postures (or “asanas”) are only one aspect…yoga is more about mindfulness, staying in the present, connection with one’s self, others, and spiritual focus.

Boston University Medical Center (2010, August 23). New study finds new connection between yoga and mood. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 14, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/08/100819112124.htm

Streeter et al. Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels: A Randomized Controlled MRS Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2010; 100819060353058 DOI: 10.1089/acm.2010.0007

Study: Yoga Enhances Mood.  (2010, August 20). Psychiatric Times. Retried December 14, 2010 from



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About Kimberly Rodgers, LCSW, RPT-S

Kimberly is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Florida and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor through the Association for Play Therapy. She also supervises clinical social work interns pursuing licensure. She has worked as a psychotherapist for twelve years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Georgia and Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida.

Her experience includes foster care, adoption, youth shelter, youth related research, school-based counseling, and sexual assault crisis center settings prior to private practice. She specializes in counseling children, families, and adults struggling with stress, anxiety, trauma, and adjustment to life transitions. Kimberly is a current Board member of the Mental Health Association of Southwest Florida and former Vice-President of the Southwest Florida chapter of the Association for Play Therapy. She is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers and EMDR International Association.

Kimberly is founder of Monarch Wellness (originally Monarch Therapy), an integrative center focused on empowering individuals and families through emotional and behavioral metamorphosis. In addition to counseling and play therapy, the center offers other supportive modalities to further enhance emotional healing and stress management including support groups, yoga, laughter yoga, breathwork, integrative relaxation, and sound therapy. Monarch Wellness' sister site offers health related information and inspiration for everyday families to live healthier every day. The center is also involved with House of Gaia community center and other community and service focused organizations. More information about Kimberly and her practice can be found online:

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