It is a general knowledge that these tandems have a relationship: stress and the way a person of thinking; and, stress and a person’s activity. However, most of the understanding these knowledge have is largely psychological.
Did you ever think of more scientific ways on how things move out inside our body with regards to the topic that is relatedly psychological?
In this article, we will try to briefly explore how the activities yoga and meditation affect GABA.
Ever heard of the word GABA?
Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or simply GABA, is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian’s central nervous system. GABA cool things off and chills things out. In other words, it is like a biochemical inside the human brain which is correlated with reducing mood disorder, anxiety and epilepsy.
For an easier understanding, GABA is best known for making you feel calm. So we can say that anyone with an addiction, which includes alcohol, tobacco, drugs, caffeine, and food, have one thing in common. They are lacking of GABA.
Let’s say, if you activate GABA receptors in the brain, say, with a glass of wine, you tend to relax and get sleepy. When this substance (wine) is constantly in the brain then rapidly withdrawn, you will suddenly have overexcited GABA receptors and you tend to suffer from its unfortunate side effects: insomnia, anxiety, and seizures.
Thus not having enough “calm chemical” can lead to an array of problems, including depression, nervousness, anxiety, racing thoughts, and sleeplessness.
Luckily, the experts have found a way to solve this problem through yoga and meditation.
Yoga and Meditation
Now that you have knowledge about GABA, let’s find out its correlation with yoga and meditation, or how the two activities boost this chemical in the brain.
The exact origin of yoga and meditation is unknown, but it is believed to arise in India more than 2000 years ago.
A lot of research says that yoga and meditation are the perfect antidotes against a hectic lifestyle. That is a lifestyle that is full of stress. According to Danae Dodge, a scientific archaeologist from the University of Sheffield, yoga and meditation has scientifically distinct benefits. Yoga, for instance, increase strength and flexibility; while meditation is designed to challenge your identity and see how your spirituality fit into the universe.
A vast amount of evidence claims that yoga can decrease cardiovascular risk, heart rate, and blood pressure. According to William T. Broad, author of “The Science of Yoga”, yoga also boost immunity and increase lifespan. It is because yoga reshapes the brain, specifically the insula which integrates thoughts and emotions, and amygdala, the one responsible for regulating fear and anxiety.
There was a research conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital, which shows a result of amygdala shrinking when people under a high level of stress underwent regular yoga and meditation. Biochemically speaking, yoga reduces GABA.
Yoga is actually more effective in GABA than walking.
The art of meditation was considered to be an exclusively Eastern practice before. It is associated with religion and spiritualism but has become more scientific modality in recent years. Moreover, according to Divya Krishnakumar and Dr. Shanmugamurthy Lakshmanan, authors of “Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that Affect Behavior and Anxiety: A Modern Scientific Perspective”, several sage-scientists of India since the time of Patanjali (known as the Father of Yoga according to regional Indian sources), has designed and established various forms of meditation.
Combining yoga with meditation will increase the expression of particular genes which includes energy metabolism and insulin secretion, as meditation re-structure the brain by increasing the thickness of cerebral cortex enabling increased in the physiological senses of the body. It also alleviates depression, aids in memory and self-awareness, decreases stress, boosts the immune system, and even aids in goal setting.
Yoga and Meditation in Boosting GABA
Some research shows that people with anxiety and depression have been shown to have low amounts of GABA in their cerebrospinal fluid.
This is the reason behind involving yoga classes and meditation in treating anxiety. Medicines are often used to increase GABA; but, yoga and meditation have been proven to increase GABA in the brain through the use of MRI spectroscopy.
Yoga, for instance, helps someone to be more comfortable in his or her own skin through holding (sometimes) to uncomfortable positions. The breathing techniques are also considered a direct physical practice to get through a psychological stress.
Yoga and meditation practices help a person’s to focus-out on his or her anxiety and focus-in in emulating hunting and gathering. Yoga practitioners tend to focus on trails, signs of water, color and shapes of leaves or berries that would identify edible species, and the evidence of prey living near or passing by.
According to a study of the psychiatrists from the Boston University School of Medicine in 2010, GABA level has significantly increased by 27% after only a 60 minute of mindful exercises. It was proven even more effective than doing physical exercise.
Researchers were quite surprised about the finding that mindful exercise is more effective than physical exercise. But think about it, meditation has been used and practiced over the millennia for a very good reason.
If you want to dissolve any anxiety and addiction you have to clear the path in achieving your highest potential, try to visit this super-effective neuron soothing state every day during meditation.
People practice many different forms of meditation. Most of the meditation do not require specialized equipment or space. You can practice meditation with just a few minutes every day.
There are two major styles of meditation: focused-attention and open-monitoring.
1. Focused attention meditation
You can do this by concentrating on a single object, though, visualization, or sound. This style of meditation emphasizes ridding your mind of attention and distraction. You may also focus on breathing, mantra, or calming sound.
2. Open-monitoring meditation
This mediation encourages the broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, a train of thought, and the sense of self. It may include awareness of thoughts, feelings or impulses that you might normally try to suppress.