We’ve known for some time that staying physically active is crucial to mental wellbeing. Interestingly, a New York Times article recently reported on how you can intensify the effect of exercise by adding yoga and meditation to your weekly routine.
In one study, people suffering from depression were asked to meditate before they went for a run. In an amazingly short period of time, they showed greater improvements in their mood than those who did either running or meditation alone.
Another study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed that all participants performed significantly better on their cognitive-thinking tests after increasing their exercise. However, only after adding yoga to the 12-week exercise routine, did the mood of the participants significantly improve. Exercise alone was not as affective in altering moods.
They also did brain scans on both groups (only exercise v. exercise plus yoga), which showed improved communication between the brains areas involved in memory and language skills. People who practiced yoga had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability to focus.
Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at U.C.L.A. who oversaw the study noted that the reduction in stress hormones and anxiety likely played a substantial role in the improvement, as well as, an increased level of biochemicals in the muscles. I encourage you to read the entire article here.
If you have severe depression or trauma-induced depression, yoga in conjunction with working with a professional who has special trauma therapy training might be a better treatment for you. Sometimes yoga brings up too much painful stuff to be handled without therapy. If you’re ready to try this treatment and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.