Stress and anxiety are undeniably a part of every person’s life. A meeting with the CEO of a company, a board exam and a first date are all experiences that stimulate these feelings. Just a little bit of fear and stress are normal. In fact, short-term stress keeps us focused and alert. However, it becomes a problem when it starts to be excessive.
When stress, fear and anxiety begin to interfere with your daily life, you may be suffering from anxiety disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health states that the anxiety that results from anxiety disorder is strikingly different than the short-lived episodes of negative feelings associated with normal events in life.
In most cases, symptoms of anxiety disorder may last more than six months. There are many different types of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, characterized by panic attacks and anxiety.
How yoga can help
When anxiety becomes excessive, it needs to be treated as soon as possible. Although counseling and medication may be recommended, yoga and meditation are low-cost side-effect free alternatives that are beneficial for many people.
Yoga is known to help people feel calm and relaxed. Many practitioners claim that the practice helps them face daily challenges more easily. Yoga includes a series of asanas or postures with breathing techniques and meditation, which helps anxiety disorder patients recover faster.
Yoga and Anxiety Research
One study published in 2010 compared amino acid, GABA levels in individuals who practiced yoga regularly versus those who did an equivalent level of walking. Researchers found that GABA levels were significantly higher among the yoga practitioners.The amino acid, GABA is important for the proper functioning of regions in brain and central nervous system that promote feelings of relaxation in the body. Low GABA levels are a clear indicator of anxiety and depression in people.
In addition to increased GABA levels in people who practiced yoga, researchers also found that these people reported better mood and lower levels of anxiety compared to the people who participated in walking.
Another study by Massachusetts General Hospital published in September 2013, examined the effects of Bikram yoga on anxiety and depression. Researchers found that the three elements of yoga, breathing, posture and meditation, stimulated a deep physiological rest state that produced a quick and positive change in metabolism, immune function and insulin secretion in the participants.Insulin is a hormone initiates the release of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that is triggered artificially via anti-depressant medications like Prozac.