Effects of Yoga Versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels

by:  Nancy Levenson

Just as yoga has many faces; Integrative Yoga Therapy, Birkram, Iyengar, Ashtanga, etc., depression too has many faces; minor, clinical, severe, seasonal and, episodic.  In a study published in 2010 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers set out to determine if the effects of yoga could increase GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) levels of the brain, enhance mood and reduce anxiety of the participants.

GABA is a major neurotransmitter and regulator of our nervous system. The nervous system governs the activities of our body and is responsible for the voluntary conscious and automatic non-conscious activity.  GABA’s role is in the nervous system is to work as an antagonist, firing neurons that block chemicals and induce calming effect.  GABA can be said to support the nervous systems – parasympathetic system, that system of the body responsible for inducing relaxation.

During this research study of a yoga and control group,  the team measured  GABA levels before and after practicing yoga and found that GABA levels had risen by an average 27%.  Mood levels were improved and anxiety lessened in the participants. This led to their conclusion that yoga was an ideal protocol for treating anxiety and depression.  Read the entire research study here.

In my yoga therapy practice, I offer clients one-on-one movement based on their initial health and wellness.  Not every client experiences depression or anxiety in the same way.  In some cases, a client experiencing hyper related symptoms will be guided through a Langhana practice to support their healing, while a client with hypo conditions may undertake a more Brahmana practice.  In both cases, clients participate in a holistic approach to their healing that includes movement, breathing exercises, energy movement, emotional healing, meditation, and lifestyle awareness and tools.  Supporting your healing with the right type of yoga is as important as choosing the right medication and dosage.

Joyful Warrior - NamasteWorksWe also offer an annual program, The Joyful Warrior – bringing more joy into your life through yoga.  This program is offered in a small group setting for a six week period to help clients lift their mood, create movement and share with one another.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is The Place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art.  We offer specialized private yoga therapy programs, classes, trainings, workshops and retreats – with healing at the focus.  We serve clients suffering with anxiety, depression, stress, structural issues and respiratory and digestive diseases that seek wellness.  We custom tailor each client’s wellness program based on a vision of health as a unity of body, mind and spirit.

Blooming Through Yoga Therapy

And then the day came
when the risk to remain
tight in a bud was
more painful than the
risk to bloom. -Anais Nin

Blooming Through Yoga Therapy










Open to your own fears today, take a risk and peel back one petal at a time, before you know it, the fear will turn into strength.  At NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness we work with you to peel back one petal at a time.  We offer private sessions and workshops on the innerself.  Our therapeutic yoga focuses on your overall well being and places equal emphasis on your physical, energetic, emotional and spiritual dimensions – using our foundational model, known as the 5 Kosha System.  This system is enhanced with many other tools and models including the 5 Elements, 5 Pranavayus, 8 Limbs, 5 Kleshas, 7 Chakras, Joint Freeing, Ayruyoga, and the functioning of the Systems of the Body all in an effort to help you peel back what is holding you tight in a bud.

In addition to working privately with us, we offer some amazing workshops this fall including; The Circle of Self – an exploration of inner self using yoga and art, The Joyful Warrior – Moving   from Depression to Joy, or stepping onto the mat for our Restorative Yoga – Relax, Renew and Rejuvenate with a gentle yoga for your entire being.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, 5860 S. Curtice St., Littleton, CO 80120. We are not a walk-in studio, and offer private group classes, individual sessions and workshops for our clients. Also offering 200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training and Free Yoga in the Park – Highlands Ranch.  All classes require a RSVP. www.namasteworksyoga.com – A Place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art.

FREE Yoga in the Park – Labor Day

Free Yoga in the Park
8:15-9:15, Saturday 9/3

Please come join us tomorrow morning for the final day of the 2011 Season of Free Yoga in the Park – Highlands Ranch. Our last morning to come together as community over this lovely Labor Day weekend and step into the mind/body park of Civic Green.

Guiding the practice tomorrow is Jenny, along with almost all the instructors who have given of themselves to bring you a summer of Yoga. We hope you can join us, bring a neighbor or two and introduce them to Yoga in the Park! Remember, you can join us indoors this fall, visit our site to see our classes, workshops and retreats – and like us on facebook, tell us what you thought about the program this year and keep up with us until we step together on the mat again!

Nancy, Jenny, Sue, Renee, Jena, Barbara, Angie, Sasha & Meghan

Program has been sponsored by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, the Highlands Ranch Metro District and Stonewear Designs.

FREE Yoga in the Park – Highlands Ranch – Sat. 8.27.2011

NO, NO, NO, Yoga in the Park this upcoming Saturday, we had a conflict in the schedule with another event and will not be there on 8/27.  Our last two classes will be next Wednesday 8/31  when Sue leads the practice and we close Labor Day Weekend, Saturday, September 3rd, with Jenny and Nancy.   Please come bid farewell to the summer series with us on one of these remaining days.

In the style of our teaching at Yoga in the Park this year, Jenny, Sue, Renee and I encourage you to come indoors and join one of our Breath with Movement classes.  8 week class session are $99.  It’s so easy to hibernate indoors  once the sky turns dark, so why not join us and keep centered in your practice and true self.

We also offer many workshop series, including; Finding the Angel Within, The Joyful Warrior, Making Peace with Migraine Headaches and Yoga for Type II Diabetes.  Our classes fill up fast, so we encourage you to review the fall listing and contact us at 303.725.1434 to reserve a space. 

And if you’ve contemplated bringing the Healing Art of Yoga to others, join us for our 200 HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training starting January 2012.

Namaste and thank you for sharing the park with us this summer in the collective spirit of community.  Please like us on facebook and keep up with us until next summer.

Discover Yoga as a Healing Art


Heal your body, Ease your emotions, Restore your spirt and Reclaim your true self.  Discover how the ancient path of yoga can help bring you to optimal wellness in one of our many classes being offered in 2011.  Some of our 2011 classes include; Yoga for Back Care, Yoga for Balance and Breath, Breath with Movement Yoga, Plus-Size Yoga, Yoga for Breast Cancer, and The Joyful Warrior for Depression.  Classess, workshops and private yoga therapy are all offerend at the center in addition to teacher training.  Visit our classes tab for full details.