Integration of yoga-based practices, like yogic breathing and meditation, can be effective in the treatment of a broad array of disorders exacerbated by stress, according to researchers at Boston University’s School of Medicine. Two studies support the effectiveness of yoga in correcting parasympathetic nervous system and GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid) system underactivity, in part through stimulation of the vagus nerves in order to reduce allostatic load.
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) support yoga’s effectiveness over walking, in improving mood, reducing anxiety, and increasing brain GABA levels. Yoga’s ability to affect neuroendocrine homeostasis has enormous implications for treating chronic pain, post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD), depression, and even epilepsy.
Vagus nerve stimulation via long, deep breathing is the first breath technique learned in practicing yoga. There are other ways to accomplish vagus nerve stimulation in yoga, but primary to mastering breathing and meditation is learning to identify, and eliminate, abnormal breathing patterns. See progression of yogic breathing
Watch Ginger merge the evidence-base with yoga in Medical Therapeutic Yoga Part A and B, offered as part of the Medical Therapeutic Yoga Certification in partnership with Medbridge Education and Professional Yoga Therapy Studies.
VIDEO: Recognizing Abnormal Breathing Patterns
- Streeter CC et al. Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Med Hypotheses. 2012 May;78(5):571-9.
- Streeter CC et al. Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety, and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS study. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Nov;16(11):1145-52