let's get clinical Yoga PI

Yoga PI: Mechanism of Action

Stress induces an autonomic nervous system (ANS) imbalance:

  • decreased parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) activity
  • increased sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity
  • GABA under-activity
  • increased allostatic load

Depression is exacerbated by stress. Antidepressants (i.e. SSRIs) help increase GABA levels in the brain.

Yoga practices are thought to improve stress-related disorders and restore optimal central nervous system (CNS) balance through stimulation of the vagus nerve which:

  • increases PSNS activity
  • elevates GABA levels
  • reduces allostatic load in the stress response
  • restores homeostasis





The Principles and Practice of Yoga and Healthcare ~ Sat Bir Singh Khalsa
Yoga for Depression ~Amy Weintraub
Yoga as Medicine ~Timothy McCall MD
Yoga Rx ~Larry Payne PhD & Dr Richard Usatine
Yoga Skills for Therapists ~Amy Weintraub


Smith JA. Is there more to yoga than exercise? Altern Ther Health Med. 2011. 17(3):22-9.
Streeter CC et al. 2012. Effects of yoga on the ANS, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression & post-traumatic stress disorder. Medical Hypothesis.
Streeter CC et al. Effects of yoga versus walking on mood, anxiety and brain GABA levels: a randomized controlled MRS study. J of Alt & Complementary medicine. 2010.16(11): 1145-52
Streeter CC et al. Yoga asana sessions increased brain GABA levels: a pilot study. J of alt and compl med. 2007. 13(4): 419-26
Woodyard C. 2011. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase QOL. Intl Journal of Yoga. 4(2): 49-54.

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