Yoga vs. CBT

Women of Different Age Practicing yogaPsycotherapist and teenager patientYoga : one of the most popular ways of staying strong and healthy in our 21st century. From big execs who look for the perfect way of strengthening their body and create body muscle to the Hollywood image conscious to the rest of us who are health driven. Yoga has become a trend of healthy life style and apparel.

While it has been embraced by all the fitness club members, yoga not only offers strong flexible body, balance for physical body, but also deep mind-body awareness, clarity and focus. Yoga’s initial purpose was to experience spiritual enlightenment. In Sanskrit (ancient language of India) yoga comes from yoke which means union : the union of the physical self with the higher self.

Depending on the ailment you are experiencing or if you are only looking to discover the right match, yoga offers many types of classes.

For example, in yoga for anxiety and depression class you will go through specific relaxing breaths and poses that reach deeper inside the physical body as well as the emotional body finding the emotional ailment while staying grounded.

You might ask yourself “isn’t that what cognitive behavioral therapy does?”; the answer is yes, CBT is a great and very popular way of undergoing in the subconscious identifying and replacing dysfunctional thoughts that trigger the anxiety or depression. What is the difference between CBT and yoga: while CBT only identifies and replaces the triggers, yoga goes in deeper to the root of the problem having a direct stronger and lasting effect.
Why is yoga stronger and lasting: yoga postures, breathing techniques and meditation benefit the emotional well-being and mental awareness with no side effects. The brain goes into deep relaxation during and after yoga, thus is easier to have a better connection with your subconscious and emotions. Scandinavian study revealed alpha waves (relaxation) and theta waves (unconscious, memory, dreams, emotions) increased to 40%.

Needless to say yoga is great for people who are depressed as the alpha waves increase the right temporal lobe activity which usually is not as active as the left in depressed and introverted people. Yoga is mindfulness based stress reduction which offers a long term effect inducing relaxation response to anxiety. According to a 2007 study researchers in Boston found yoga increases the level of GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter that may help reduce anxiety. Through yoga you become aware of your own body and you can observe easier the mind objectively.

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Here are few poses you can try for yourself. Please note before you try these poses, you should check with your doctor and your yoga therapist (myself): downward-facing dog pose, headdstand, bridge pose, shoulder stand, seated forward bend, legs up the wall pose.

Lots of studies made by Duke, Harvard and University of California San Francisco funded by National Institutes of Health show the impact yoga made in our 21st century supporting the fact that yoga goes deeper into the body. Physiologically yoga can help with: anxiety, depression, pain relief, weight loss, immune system, clarity, focus, relaxation, lowering blood level of inflammation, younger looking and so much more. The studies are still undergoing discovering more great stuff about what yoga offers.

2 examples of studies made:
1. 6 weeks of yoga asanas (stretching poses) stress reduction techniques and breathing exercises, on a group of veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was reduced to 15 points moving from severe anxiety to mild through moderate – study made based on Clinical Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS)
2. In 2005 German study distressed women participated in yoga study for 3 months showing a 50% drop in depression, 30% drop in anxiety and 65% increase in overall wellbeing.

Let yoga be part of your life. Love yourself! Bring mindfulness to the areas that need your attention and love. Give yourself some TLC that is lasting and strong.

Atma Namaste


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