The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Scientific research shows yoga to relieve stress and depression

Emily Hoffmann a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences goes into a yoga pose during the Rec Center's yogalates class. A. Martina Ibanez / [email protected]

A study published Feb. 27 in the Journal of Medical Hypotheses found that individuals who practice yoga are less likely to suffer from a plethora of stress-related ailments.

Other researchers from institutions such as the Boston University School of Medicine and New York Medical College found that specific imbalances in the brain cause depression or stress-related conditions which yoga, unlike other exercise forms, can greatly reduce.

Practicing yoga helps release an acid called GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which greatly reduces stress levels and improves overall health.

According to the researchers, having low levels of GABA can be linked to epilepsy, depression and anxiety.

Meg Galarza, a yoga practitioner and owner of Yoga One Studios in Cedarburg and Fox Point, Wis., said yoga can help improve overall health.

“With regular practice, you will find that yoga not only helps you gain more flexibility and strength, it helps you with your mood and gives you great coping skills to deal with stress in your life,” Galarza said.

Galarza said she was born into a family that practiced yoga daily. But she added that in her teenage years, she rebelled against the practice. She returned to the familiar form when she started a family.

“I found comfort and peace again in the practice and really needed it as a mother of two,” Galarza said.

Another study conducted by the Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research found that yoga may even provide preventative measures for secondary school students in controlling anger and combating fatigue.

Loren Andrade, a yoga instructor for elementary school children and a sophomore in the College of Communication, said the practice is a clear release from stress.

“While I’m doing yoga I feel relaxed and there doesn’t seem to be stress,” Andrade said. “But as soon as I walk out of that room, it’s back to the real world.”

While Andrade recognizes the benefits of yoga in reducing ailments, she added that yoga can not possibly solve every issue and supplemental health precautions are needed.

Isa Almy, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, agreed that yoga is not the only solution in promoting and maintaining good health.

“You have to be doing other things too,” Almy said. “While I like yoga, I prefer (cardiovascular exercise) because I think I get more out of it.”

Galarza said different people may find different health benefits in practicing yoga.

“Physically, a regular (6 days per week) practice of yoga can give you a well toned body,” Galarza said. “The other aspect of the practice is mindfulness. As you practice yoga, you gain more awareness of your body, which leads one to live a more healthy lifestyle.”

The second study also found that consistent yoga practitioners will likely have higher rates of stable mental health.

Andrade said yoga helps her relax and feel at peace compared to higher-level cardiovascular workouts, which do not incorporate mental calming practices.

While the study makes a case for taking up the practice, Galarza said some individuals still underestimate the power of yoga.

“I find that many people don’t think they can do yoga or that it’s only for girls,” Galarza said. “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”

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